Mandatory Spending Options

Mandatory spending—which totaled about $2.0 trillion in 2013, or about 60 percent of federal outlays, CBO estimates—consists of all spending (other than interest on federal debt) that is not subject to annual appropriations. Lawmakers generally determine spending for mandatory programs by setting the programs’ parameters, such as eligibility rules and benefit formulas, rather than by appropriating specific amounts each year. Mandatory spending is net of offsetting receipts—certain fees and other charges that are recorded as negative budget authority and outlays.