Committee Approves Biennial Budget Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today announced committee approval of legislation establishing a two-year federal budget.

“Our budget system is broken and needs to be fixed,” said Senator Thompson. “Today the Governmental Affairs Committee took a very important step in that direction, with the passage of a two-year budget process. Working with a two-year budget would give Congress time for other things, such as figuring out which programs work and which ones don’t. Right now we don’t have good answers to those questions, and it’s time for Congress to do a better job of following up on the money that we’re spending.”

The Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, S.92, was introduced January 19 by Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM), Senator Thompson, and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), the ranking member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and has 31 co-sponsors. The legislation converts the annual budget, appropriations, and authorization process to a biennial, or two-year, cycle.

The Biennial Budget and Appropriations Act:
– requires the President to submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of Congress;
– requires Congress to adopt a two-year budget resolution and a reconciliation bill (if necessary);
– requires Congress to enact two-year appropriation bills during the first session of Congress;
– makes budgeting and appropriating the priority for the first session of Congress;
– devotes the second session of a Congress to consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs, and;
– modifies the Government Performance and Results Act, incorporating the government planning and reporting process into the two-year budget cycle to enhance federal program oversight.

The Committee also approved a pair of additional budget reforms including: a provision establishing a majority-vote point-of-order against emergency spending legislation; and a provision designed to prevent government shutdowns by providing that agencies be automatically funded at the lower of the previous year’s level or the level proposed by the President, this would apply beginning in Fiscal Year 2000 and sunset at the end of Fiscal Year 2001.

The legislation will now be considered by the Senate Budget Committee for 30 days, at which time it will be ready for action by the full Senate.