Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) said today that he would hold hearings on bipartisan legislation he will introduce with Senator Domenici to convert the appropriations and budget process to a two-year cycle.
“One of the most valuable elements in this important bill,” Thompson said, “is that it would provide more time for Congress to oversee and evaluate existing programs and find out what is working and what is not. Congress should not just rely on good intentions when it passes new measures, but we also should make sure that the laws we write work. Under our current annual budget system we have far too little time to undertake the careful oversight of federal programs which we badly need.”
Under the legislation, the President would submit a two-year budget in the first session of a Congress. The priority in this session would be to complete a biennial budget resolution and pass the biennial appropriations bills. The second session would be reserved for authorization measures and improved oversight.
The bill would enhance oversight by putting the planning and performance requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (1993) into the two-year budget cycle, and by providing Congress more time to conduct the required oversight. The proposal also would provide Congress more time to develop and consider longer-term policy initiatives.
Thompson said that without the lengthy annual debate over the budget and appropriations process, a valuable by-product of the legislation also would be to provide Senators more time to spend with the people they represent. “I would hope,” Thompson said, “that the legislation would move us closer yet to the citizen legislature envisioned by the Founders.”
While no date for a hearing on the legislation has been scheduled for the Governmental Affairs Committee, it will come after the Budget Committee hearing scheduled for February 13.