WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has introduced legislation to end reckless spending and reform the federal budget process by converting it from an annual spending process to a two-year cycle, with one year for appropriating federal dollars and the other year devoted to oversight of federal programs.
“One of the problems we have in Congress with deficit spending is spending money on projects that shouldn’t be funded with tax dollars and programs that have outlasted their usefulness. So this is first and foremost about changing our budget process and setting priorities for spending,” Isakson said.
“Also, under this legislation, if you appropriated during odd-numbered years and did oversight during even-numbered years, wouldn’t it be refreshing to have candidates seeking federal office in even-numbered years talking about the oversight of federal programs instead of how they want to spend more of the taxpayers’ dollars. Congress must become better stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and this legislation is a good step in that direction.”
Specifically, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, S.169, would require the president to submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of a Congress. Members of Congress would then need to adopt a two-year budget resolution, a reconciliation bill if necessary and two-year appropriations bills during that first session.
The legislation ensures the enactment of two-year appropriations bills by providing a new majority point of order against consideration of an appropriations bill that fails to cover two years.
The second session of a Congress would then be devoted to the consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs. Isakson believes the enhanced oversight will result in more accountability of government programs.
Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Mel Martinez, R-Fla., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, David Vitter, R-La., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
Former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, began advocating for biennial budget reform in the late 1980s and continued to pursue shifting the federal budgeting process to a biennial system until his retirement last year. Isakson was a co-sponsor of Domenici’s legislation during the 109th and 110th Congress.