Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Non-Defense Discretionary Spending:  $615 billion;  15% of Federal Outlays

Annual appropriations for a multitude of government operations and programs are often known as “non-defense discretionary” — Including law enforcement, veterans healthcare, homeland security, education, prisons, NASA, disease and epidemic control, highways & bridges, food and drug inspection, disaster relief, airports, health research, housing assistance, and many other functions of government. Following are non-defense discretionary programs/categories funded at close to, or more than, $1 billion in FY 2017.

FY 2017 Budget Authority and Outlays by Function, Category, and Program

Budget Function
Program or Program Categories
Source for Data: Budget of the United States, OMB FY 2017 Outlays Baseline
Click on program titles for nonpartisan CRS background reports;  and
click on items next to Function Ttitles for CRS reports on recent appropriations bills
FY 2017
(baseline projections)

Defense (Budget Function 050)  Go to the “Defense Spending” page

International Affairs (Budget Function 150)
State-Foreign Operations Appropriations
CRS Efforts to Evaluate Effectiveness of U.S. Foreign Aid

Development Assistance $2.9 billion
International Food Aid $1.6 billion
CRS: Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy $3.3 billion
Global Health Programs $8.9 billion
Disaster Assistance $2.5 billion
Multilateral Development Banks $2.3 billion
International Narcotics Control $1.6 billion
US Agency for International Development Operations (USAID) $1.5 billion
Foreign Military Financing Grants and Loans $6.2 billion
Economic Support Fund $6 billion
Nonproliferation, antiterrorism, demining, and related programs $1 billion
State Department Operations $8 billion
Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance $1.8 billion
Contributions to International Organizations $1.5 billion
International Peacekeeping $2.5 billion
Educational and Cultural Exchanges and International Broadcasting $1.6 billion
Millennium Challenge Corporation $0.7 billion
International Trade and Finance
Major Foreign Aid Initiatives

General Science, Space & Technology (Budget Function 250)
Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations

NASA $19 billion
National Science Foundation $6.7 billion
Dept of Energy Science Programs $5.9 billion
CRS Report:  Overview of Federal Research and Development Funding  n/a

Energy (Budget Function 270)
Energy Water Appropriations

Fossil Energy Funding $0.8 billion
Uranium Enrichment Decontamination $0.8 billion
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (supply and conservation) $2 billion
Nuclear Energy R&D Funding $0.9 billion

Natural Resources & Environment (Budget Function 300)
Interior Environment Appropriations
Energy Water Appropriations

Pollution Control and Abatement (EPA) — Appropriations Overview
Regulatory, Enforcement, and Research $3.3 billion
EPA State and Tribal Assistance Grants $3.8 billion
Hazardous Substance Cleanup (Superfund) $1.1 billion
CRS: Nonpartisan Background Paper on Climate Change for Congress
CRS: Changes in the Arctic Background and Issues for Congress
Corps of Engineers – Water Projects $7.2 billion
Forest Service $6.5 billion
Operation of Recreational Resources $3 billion
Fish and Wildlife Service  $1.5 billion
Nat’l Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $6 billion
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) $2 billion
Management of Public Lands (BLM) $1.2 billion
Bureau of Reclamation (responsible for construction of most of the large irrigation and water resources infrastructure in the West) $1.3 billion

Agriculture (Budget Function 350)
Agriculture Appropriations

Farm Income Stabilization (these are administrative expenses; the program itself is an entitlement) $1.3 billion
Research and Education $2.2 billion
Animal and Plant Inspection $1.1 billion

Commerce and Housing Credit (Budget Function 370)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): Science and Technology $1 billion
Economic and Demographic Statistics $1.5 billion
Small and Minority Business Assistance $0.7 billion

Transportation (Budget Function 400)
Transportation Housing Appropriations
Homeland Security Appropriations

Federal funding for Highways: is a budgetary oddity since the spending authority is considered to be “mandatory spending” since it is provided in multiyear highway “authorizing legislation,”  however, the outlays are considered to be “discretionary” since they are controlled by the Appropriations Committee. $43 billion
Federal Funding for Mass Transit similar to funding for Highways, explained above, the outlays for mass transit are considered to be “discretionary,” although the spending authority is controlled by multiyear authorizing legislation. $10.5 billion
Airports and Airways (FAA) $17 billion
Marine Safety and Transportation $8.6 billion
Air Transportation Security (TSA) $5 billion
Railroads $3.4 billion
Highway Safety $1.5 billion

Community and Regional Development & Disaster Relief (Budget Function 450)
Homeland Security Appropriations
Agriculture Rural Development Appropriations

Disaster Assistance and Response Programs $3 billion
Indian Programs $1.7 billion
Community Development Grants to States and Cities $6.8 billion
FEMA State and Local Grants $2.2 billion
Other Disaster Programs $1.4 billion
Rural Development Programs $0.8 billion

Education, Employment & Training, Social Services (Budget Function 500)
FY 2017 Labor HHS Education Appropriations

Higher Education and Student Aid

(Note: An additional $6 billion for student financial assistance is considered to be “mandatory spending.”)

$27 billion
Education for the Disadvantaged Title I $16 billion
Special Education Funding (Children with Disabilities) $13 billion
Children and Family Services $11.1 billion
School Improvement Funding $4.5 billion
Training and Employment Services $6.9 billion
Older Americans Act and Aging Services $1.9 billion
Innovation & Improvement (Charter Schools and Non-Public Education) $1.3 billion
Vocational and Adult Education $1.5 billion
Indian Education $1 billion
Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps and Senior Service Corps) $1.1 billion
Impact Aid (payments to states/cities) $1.4 billion
Labor law, statistics and other labor services $1.9 billion
Smithsonian $1 billion
Corporation for Public Broadcasting $445 million

Health (Budget Function 550)
Labor HHS Education Appropriations

Note: the bulk of U.S. health spending is through the Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance, and Affordable Care Act programs, all of which are “entitlement programs” i.e. annual spending is determined by benefit formulas and the number of eligible individuals — not by annual appropriations decisions.  See “Medicaid and Medicaid,” “Affordable Care Act,” and “Other Mandatory” pages of this website for program and spending details.
National Institutes of Health $32 billion
Centers for Disease Control Funding $6.5 billion
Indian Health Service $4.9 billion
Mental Health, Substance Abuse (SAMHSA) $3.6 billion
HRSA: health care services for the uninsured and medically underserved and Social Services Emergency Fund $7.2 billion
Food and Drug Administration Overview

Medical Devices;  Drugs: Safety and EffectivenessFY 2016 AppropriationsFood Safety PrimerPDUFASafety and Innovation Act

$2.6 billion
Food Safety and Inspection Service $1 billion
Occupational and Mine Safety and Health $1 billion

Medicare Administrative Costs (Budget Function 570)
Labor HHS Education Appropriations

Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Administrative Costs $2.9 billion
Medicare Part B Administrative Costs $2.8 billion
See the “Medicare and Medicaid” page for outlays from Medicare Hospital Insurance, Supplementary Medical Insurance, and Prescription Drugs which are entitlement programs, i.e., annual outlays is determined by benefit formulas and the number of legally eligible beneficiaries — not by annual appropriations decisions.  Net mandatory spending for Medicare is $602 billion.

Income Security (including Housing, Food & Nutrition) (Budget Function 600)
Labor HHS Education Appropriations
Transportation Housing Appropriations

Rental Housing Assistanc (Section 8) $20 billion
Project-Based Rental Assistance $11 billion
Public Housing Operating and Capital Fund $6.5 billion
HOME Investment Partnerships Program $1 billion
Nutrition for Women Infants and Children $6.4 billion
LIHEAP: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program $3.1 billion
Unemployment Trust Fund: Administrative Expenses  $4.1 billion
Homeless Assistance $2.3 billion
Childcare and Development Block Grant

(In addition to this amount, there is a $3 billion Child Care Entitlement to States that is “mandatory” spending.)

$2.8 billion
Rural Housing Assistance $1.5 billion
Refugee Assistance $1.8 billion
Supplemental Security Income Administration $5.4 billion

Social Security Administration (Budget Function 650)
Labor HHS Education Appropriations

Social Security Administration (Old Age and Survivors Insurance Expenses) $2.8 billion
Social Security Administration (Disability Insurance Expenses) $3.0 billion
See “Other Mandatory” Spending page for Social Security Old Age and Survivors Benefits and Disability Benefits which are entitlement programs, i.e., annual spending for particular benefits is determined by the number of legally eligible beneficiaries — not by annual appropriations decisions.  Total mandatory spending for Social Security is $970 billion.

Veterans Benefits and Services (Budget Function 700)
Military Construction Veterans Appropriations

Veterans Healthcare (unlike other VA benefits that are statutory entitlements, healthcare is part of the annual discretionary budget) $64 billion
Veterans Administration Medical Facilities and Construction $5.5 billion
Department of Veterans Affairs Administrative Expenses $7.5 billion
See “Other Mandatory” Spending page for Veterans compensation, pension, education, training, and rehabilitation which are entitlement programs, i.e., annual spending for particular benefits is determined by the number of legally eligible veterans — not by annual appropriations decisions.  Total mandatory spending for veterans is $104 billion.

Law Enforcement, Prisons, Administration of Justice (Budget Function 750)
Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations
Homeland Security Appropriations

Border and Transportation Security $21 billion
Federal Litigation (Civil and Criminal) $5.8 billion
Judicial Activities $7.1 billion
Federal Prison System $7.5 billion
Criminal Investigations (FBI, DEA, DHS) $6.5 billion
State and Local Law Enforcement Grants $1.4 billion
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) $1.2 billion
US Secret Service $2 billion

General Government (Budget Function 800)
Financial Services and General Govt Appropriations
Legislative Branch Appropriations

Internal Revenue Service Budget $11 billion
Legislative Branch: House, Senate, Government Accountability Office, Architect of the Capitol, Government Printing Office $4 billion
Executive Office of the President funding $0.4 billion

Net Interest (Budget Function 900) is mandatory spending, i.e., it is determined by the amount of public debt and interest rates, not by annual appropriations decisions.