Direct spending

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Direct spending is budget authority provided by law other than appropriation acts, entitlement authority, and the food stamp program, as defined by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. [1]

Direct spending may be temporary or permanent, definite or indefinite (as to amount) but it is an appropriation or other budget authority made available to agencies in an act other than an appropriation act.

Under expired Budget Enforcement Act (BEA) provisions, new direct spending was subject to pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements.

Permanent spending

Permanent spending, or permanent authority, is budget authority available as the result of previously enacted legislation and is available without further legislative action. For example, authority to retain and use offsetting receipts tends to be permanent authority. Such budget authority can be the result of substantive legislation or appropriation acts.

The rules of the U.S. House of Representatives prohibit consideration of appropriations bills for expenditures not previously authorized by law.[2]

Temporary spending

Temporary spending are items needing a vote from both chambers outside the ordinary budget process, such as wars (like Afghanistan or Iraq), immediate disaster relief assistance (like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy), and extended unemployment benefits in periods of high unemployment.

Temporary spending maybe for less than one annual budget cycle or extended over several years. Temporary spending is not intended to become a permanent spending obligation of the United States government. Some forms of temporary spending are also referred to as emergency spending, and are usually covered in the supplemental appropriations process.

New spending

New spending, in the absence of a concurrent resolution[3], serves for the chamber passing it as an annual budget resolution for purposes of establishing enforceable budget levels for a budget cycle.

New spending allocations provide target levels to the appropriations committees, but they also can set new higher aggregate budget levels, increased spending, and provide revised spending allocations relative to other House and Senate committees.[4]

See also


  1. A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process. General Accounting Office. GAO-05-734SP (2005). The document covers highly technical terms as they are used in the United States, which may take on different meanings in future budget enactments. To interpret a specific term that appears in a specific document, the applicable definition must be checked, rather than automatically relying on these definitions.
  2. See Rule XXI, Rules of the House of Representatives. A similar, but more limited provision exists in Rule XVI, Standing Rules of the Senate. (See Point of Order.) Some agency programs or functions are reauthorized every year, while others are authorized for several years or permanently.
  3. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires the adoption each year of a concurrent resolution on the budget.
  4. See Deeming Resolution.