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“Time is right to overhaul budget process, strengthen oversight”

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., today reintroduced their bipartisan budget reform legislation that would overhaul the way Congress budgets federal dollars to strengthen oversight of government spending and pave the way to tackle the nation’s debt.

The Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, S.284, would convert the annual appropriations process for federal tax dollars to a two-year budget cycle with one year devoted to appropriating federal dollars and the next year focused on oversight of how those dollars are being used in federal programs. This structure would provide greater certainty and oversight, forcing Congress to become a better steward of taxpayers’ money.

“It’s time to prove to taxpayers that their federal government cares about how their money is being spent and is serious about eliminating waste,” said Isakson. “This commonsense, bipartisan approach would help ensure an on-time budget cycle and remove the political deadlines and uncertainty that produces results like the most recent government shutdown. By budgeting in a two-year cycle, we would improve oversight and ultimately reduce spending while making our federal government more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers.”

“Biennial budgeting would enable Congress to have a more bipartisan, transparent and effective budget process,” said Shaheen. “This type of budgeting works in New Hampshire, and it can work for the nation. This is an important step forward to improve oversight of taxpayer dollars, provide greater certainty to federal agencies to carry out operations and fix a broken process. I’ll continue to work with Senator Isakson to move this proposal forward.”

The legislation would require the president to submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of a new Congress. Members of Congress would then need to adopt a two-year budget resolution and two-year funding bills during that first session. The second session of a Congress would then be devoted to the oversight of federal programs and consideration of authorization bills.

Along with Isakson and Shaheen, 12 senators have signed on to support the legislation including U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Tom Carper, D-Del., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Amy Klobuchar, D-Mich., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rick Scott, R-Fla., and John Thune, R-S.D.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

Background:
The biennial budgeting concept has been endorsed by Republican and Democratic presidents, as well as by numerous federal budget experts. Isakson has supported biennial budgeting proposals every year since he joined the Senate in 2005, while Shaheen has firsthand experience with the efficacy of biennial budgeting from her tenure as governor of New Hampshire, which operates on a two-year budget cycle. Nineteen states operate under a biennial budgeting cycle.

Most recently, in 2018, a select congressional committee tasked with fixing Washington’s broken budget process drafted legislation that included similar biennial budget provisions along the lines of the Isakson-Shaheen proposal, but unfortunately the legislation ultimately failed to advance to the full Senate.

In 2013, the Isakson-Shaheen proposal passed by a 68-31 vote in the Senate as an amendment to that year’s budget resolution, which is a non-binding blueprint. Additionally, in 2016, both the Senate Budget Committee and House Budget Committee chairmen included versions of biennial budgeting in separate proposals to reform the federal budget process.

Information direct from the Office of Senator Johnny Isakson

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