Budget Committee Releases Working Paper on the Need to Control Automatic Spending and Unauthorized Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Budget Committee released its second in a series of working papers focused on the Committee’s effort to overhaul the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and reform the congressional budget process. The paper follows a hearing the Committee held on June 9th that examined how Congress must gain control of the government’s automatic spending – currently two-thirds of the Federal budget – and account for unauthorized programs – which in fiscal year 2016 are estimated to have consumed $310 billion, or about one-quarter, of all appropriated discretionary spending.

The working paper focuses on six main themes:

  • The Dominance of Automatic Spending
  • Spending and Debt
  • Trends in Automatic Spending Programs
  • Existing Controls on Automatic Spending
  • Proposed Additional Controls on Automatic Spending
  • Unauthorized Spending

In its opening, the paper notes that the unchecked growth in automatic spending is consuming the nation’s annual budget and driving growth in the debt:

“The prevalence of automatic spending in the Federal budget threatens to overwhelm fiscal policy and the economy. More than two-thirds of Federal spending (including interest payments) runs on effectively permanent authorizations, and Congress sets no limits on the totals. This form of spending, mostly for the government’s entitlement programs, is the sole cause of spending growth as a share of the economy, and the main contributor to the government’s mounting debt…A central aim of a new budget process must be to gain control of the government’s automatic spending.”


To learn more about the House Budget Committee’s efforts to reform the congressional budget process, visit budget.house.gov/BudgetProcessReform.

Previous working papers: