In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced this bill to give lawmakers an opportunity to prevent waste and promote efficiency through a greater emphasis on oversight in the budgeting process:
“Voters spoke out in November and they want a change in the way Washington does business. They want Congress to get a handle on the national debt. It’s time that Washington does what every American family has to do: Sit down and figure out what’s working and what isn’t and set spending priorities. This system would increase oversight and reduce wasteful spending, making our federal government more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers.”
Biennial budgets have been criticized for being slow to respond to changes in the government’s fiscal condition. Former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin testified in 2004 that:
“[C]hanging to a two-year cycle could have significant drawbacks. It could diminish the effectiveness of Congressional control of spending in the appropriation process and could make adjusting to rapidly changing budgetary and economic conditions more difficult.”
This bill currently has 16 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. It's predecessor in the 113th Congress was endorsed by 68 members of the U.S. Senate.
Of Note: For more than 70 years biennial budgeting has been a common practice at the state level, but the number of states enacting two-year budgets has fallen from 44 in 1940 to 19 in 2011. Of those states that use biennial budgets, 15 are state legislatures that meet annually while the remaining four are only hold biennial sessions.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Lord Jim)