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WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., today introduced the Biennial Budget Appropriations Act that would switch Congress 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.

Isakson has sponsored biennial budgeting proposals every year since he came to the Senate in 2005, while Shaheen has firsthand experience with biennial budgeting from her tenure as governor of New Hampshire.

"We must rein in spending, reform our broken appropriations process and require that Congress conduct oversight of federal programs on a regular basis. That's why I have pushed for biennial budgeting every year I've been in the Senate," said Isakson. "This legislation would shift the paradigm in Washington to where elected officials will be forced to talk about oversight, savings and reduced spending during an election year instead of how much pork they can bring home."

"We need to change the way we do business in Washington, and biennial budgeting is a common sense beginning. Biennial budgeting has been used successfully in New Hampshire for decades, and as governor I found it useful for keeping administrative costs low," said Shaheen. "It's also a critical tool for improving legislative and agency review of government programs, so that we're not just spending blindly, but analyzing what works and what doesn't." 

The legislation by Isakson and Shaheen would convert the federal budget process from an annual, chaotic spending event to a two-year, thoughtful process that would require Congress to conduct oversight.  It would mandate that the first year of a Congress be dedicated to appropriating federal dollars while the second year is devoted to scrutinizing federal programs to determine if they are working and deserve to continue to be funded.  This budget reform would force Congress to become better stewards of the taxpayers' money, thereby reducing reckless and wasteful spending.

Congress has repeatedly failed to pass the 12 annual spending bills on time and frequently has resorted to passing omnibus bills at the last minute instead of debating each spending bill individually.  Last year, Congress failed to complete work on a single one of the 12 appropriations bills before adjourning for the year.  Since 1980, Congress has only twice completed the entire appropriations process before October 1. 

The Biennial Budget Appropriations Act is S.211.