Discretionary Spending

This term refers to the funding that is provided each year by the Congress through the Appropriations process. Often people refer to this portion of the budget as the part that lawmakers actually can control -- hence the classification as discretionary. This portion of the budget is about one-third of all federal spending. This is in contrast to other portions of the federal budget which are sometimes referred to as "uncontrollables" (like interest on the debt and entitlements) because the government is committed to paying for them.