Washington, DC – Calling biennial budgeting a valuable tool in the fight against government waste, fraud and abuse, Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today joined a bipartisan group of Senators and House members to announce a new effort in the coming months to enact a two-year federal budget.
“We need to spend less time putting together a budget that spends the taxpayers? money and more time making sure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” said Chairman Thompson, a proponent of biennial budget legislation since he came to the Senate. “Federal agencies are losing billions of dollars each year to waste, fraud and abuse because they?re not being held accountable. It?s time to hold some feet to the fire, and converting to a two-year budget cycle will enable Congress to do just that.”
Chairman Thompson recently released an alarming compilation of waste, fraud and abuse totaling $220 billion in lost taxpayer dollars, including an astounding $35 billion in Fiscal Year 1998 alone.
With biennial budgeting, a two-year federal budget and appropriations bills would be considered and approved in the first session of each Congress. The second session would be devoted to consideration of authorization bills and programmatic oversight of government agencies. Biennial budgeting would help reduce time unnecessarily spent on budget and appropriations issues. Thus, Congress and the Executive Branch would spend less time on spending money and more time examining how money should be spent.
“Congress needs time to sift through information in agency performance reports so we can determine which programs are working, which ones aren?t, and why,” said Thompson, who joined a bipartisan group at today?s event that included House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA-28), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM), Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2), Rep. Bill Luther (D-MN-6) and other House supporters.
Rep. Dreier announced today that the House Rules Committee will be holding hearings this month to prepare for floor action in the House. Last November, a resolution Dreier circulated supporting biennial budgeting garnered 245 cosponsors.
Last year, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved S.92, biennial budget legislation sponsored by Senators Domenici, Thompson, and Lieberman that would convert the annual budget, appropriations, and authorization process to a two-year cycle. The bill was cleared by the Senate Budget Committee, sent to the full Senate, and is ready for floor consideration.
“For those of us who have been pushing for budget reform for some time, we welcome the light at the end of tunnel,” Senator Thompson said, noting that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) spoke in favor of biennial budgeting during a Tuesday Chamber of Commerce speech.