The aggregates is a budgetary term used to describe the total amount of spending and revenue of the Federal Government. It may refer to the actual amounts having already occurred, or more typically, those that are projected to occur in the future. While the term is not formally defined in budget law (such as in Section 3. Definitions (CBA) or Section 250. Definitions (BBEDCA)), it is commonly used and understood. Notably, in terms of spending, aggregates include both projected direct spending and the projected level of discretionary spending.  

Section 311 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974

The aggregate level of spending is theoretically a ceiling, and the  aggregate level of revenue is a floor. Legislative measures may not cause spending to exceed the ceiling nor cause revenue to drop beneath the floor. If a measure comes before the House that would have that effect should it be enacted, it becomes subject to a section 311 point of order.

Discretionary Spending. As it applies to spending, this point of order is not usually applicable during much of the legislative year since appropriation Acts are still in the process of being considered. While under section 257 (BBEDCA), CBO prepares a discretionary baseline to project expected levels of spending, for enforcement purposes, they are considered to start from a base of zero. Hence the aggregate will not be reached until the enactment of appropriation bills for the fiscal year for which the point of order is being enforced. This also is the reason that the 311 point of order in terms of spending, only applies to the first fiscal year to which a budget resolution applies (the CBA “budget year”). This is distinct from revenue, which has a first year test and a test for the period of years covered by the budget resolution being enforced.

Annualization. Upon the adoption of a continuing resolution, though, the amount is “annualized”, which means it is assumed to continue for the entire year, no matter how long the period of time the short term spending bill is to last. This will have the effect of bringing the total amount of discretionary spending and direct spending to their full levels.

Revenue. The term “revenue” is commonly used and means the amounts coming in to the government derived from its sovereign power, which essentially means it may compel payment by force of law. This is distinct from “offsetting receipts”, or other forms of collects, usually derived from a business-like activity, with the government providing good or services in exchange for payment. The formal name for “revenue” is “governmental receipts”. These non-governmental receipts are considered negative spending, and are used to calculate the aggregate level of spending in category rather than on the revenue side.


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