39 Senators Call on Congress to Enact Budget Reform

WASHINGTON, DC –Congress should move to a two-year budget cycle because the current annual federal budget process takes up too much of Congress’ time and leaves too little for congressional oversight activities, according to U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici, R-NM, and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-TN.

The two chairmen announced that they would work quickly to pass legislation establishing a two-year budget and appropriations cycle when the 106th Congress convenes next year in order to streamline the budget process, strengthen congressional oversight, and increase governmental accountability.

Under a biennial budget, the President and Congress would establish a two-year budget in the first session of Congress, while reserving the second session for enhanced agency oversight to improve government operations.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, the two committee chairmen, joined by 37 senators, urged prompt action to “make this important reform law.” A two-year budget enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Senate and has been endorsed by the current Administration.

“Congress now spends more than half of its time each year voting on the government’s annual budget,” Domenici said. “Clearly we can do better. We should devote less time to simply putting together a budget that spends the taxpayers’ money and more time making certain that money is spent wisely and efficiently. A two-year budget cycle will help us do just that.”

“This year’s experience should dispel any lingering doubts about whether the current budget process is broken,” Thompson said. “We need to enact budget reform legislation and then devote more time overseeing federal programs that clearly are not working.”

Legislation sponsored by Domenici to establish a two-year budget was approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee during the 105th Congress but was not brought before the full Senate for consideration.

The 37 senators joining Senators Domenici and Thompson in signing the letter include Senators Craig Thomas (R-WY), William Roth Jr. (R-DE), Wendell Ford (D-KY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Rod Grams (R-MN), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Don Nickles (R-OK), Larry Craig (R-ID), Phil Gramm (R-TX), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Bill Frist (R-TN), Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY), Bob Smith (R-NH), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), Charles Robb (D-VA), James Jeffords (R-VT), John McCain (R-AZ), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Richard Lugar (R-IN), John Breaux (D-LA), and John Chaffee (R-RI).

Copy of letter to Senators Lott and Daschle attached.