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National Debt Glossary

The spending that’s negotiated between the President and Congress each year as part of the budget process (as opposed to mandatory spending). Discretionary spending is typically set by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and their various subcommittees through annual appropriations bills, with each bill corresponding to the jurisdiction of one of the subcommittees.

Discretionary spending in fiscal 2010 was $1.35 trillion, or 39 percent of total federal spending. More than half of that amount — $689 billion — was for national defense.

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