Expiring Mandatory Programs

Issue Brief 16-45
September 19, 2016

Summary 

Congress provides funding for discretionary grant programs through the annual appropriations process. It is not uncommon for these programs to receive funding even when their authorizations have expired. However, discretionary programs account for only about 25% of federal grant funding to state and local governments. The remaining 75% is for mandatory programs, which derive their budget authority directly from authorizing legislation. Most of these programs are funded apart from the appropriations process, and must be reauthorized in a timely manner to continue to operate or undertake new activities.