Changes In Discretionary Spending: 20+ Years of Data

Congress is working on the federal government’s spending plan for Fiscal Year 2021. How will spending levels compare to the past? Here are the top line numbers for the last fifteen years. Here’s the upshot:

Discretionary spending on defense has gone up almost 70% in the last 25 years, while non-defense spending is up 55%. Meanwhile, spending on the legislative branch has only increased by 26%, and most of that comes from ballooning Capitol Police and Architect of the Capitol budgets.

The gap between defense and non-defense spending closes a bit when you separate out Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which is off-budget spending that largely goes to defense-related matters.

If you want to analyze the numbers yourself, you can download them here.