Shaheen Reintroduces Bill to Shake Up Washington Budget Process

**‘Biennial Budgeting Act,’ co-sponsored by Senator Maggie Hassan, would tighten spending, strengthen oversight, tackle debt**

February 06, 2017

(Washington, DC) — Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) reintroduced their bipartisan budget reform legislation that would shake up the way Congress budgets federal tax dollars and allow for greater oversight of government spending. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) co-sponsored the legislation, which would convert Congress’ annual appropriations process to a two-year budget cycle. The Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, S.306, would force Congress to become a better steward of the taxpayers’ money by moving the federal government to a two-year budget cycle, with one year for appropriating federal dollars and the other year devoted to oversight of federal programs.

“Our biennial budgeting legislation offers a bipartisan, pragmatic reform to our country’s broken budget process,” Senator Shaheen said. “In New Hampshire, we have seen firsthand that biennial budgeting works, and it’s time to bring this common-sense reform to Washington. Our bipartisan proposal will allow for better oversight of taxpayer dollars and a more thoughtful budget process with fewer opportunities for manufactured crises.”

“Biennial budgeting is a common-sense, fiscally responsible measure that will help to make the budget process more efficient and allow us to ensure that federal dollars are being put to their best use,” said Senator Hassan. “As Governor, I saw firsthand the benefits of biennial budgeting at the state level, and I strongly support instituting this reform at the federal level.”

In 2013, the Isakson-Shaheen proposal passed by a 68-31 vote in the Senate as an amendment to that year’s budget resolution, which is a non-binding blueprint. In 2015, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on the legislation. Additionally, in 2016, both the Senate Budget Committee and House Budget Committee chairmen included versions of biennial budgeting in separate proposals to reform the federal budget process.

The legislation requires the president to submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of a Congress. Members of Congress would then need to adopt a two-year budget resolution and two-year appropriations bills during that first session. The second session of a Congress would then be devoted to the consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs.

The biennial budgeting concept has been endorsed by Republican and Democratic presidents, as well as by numerous federal budget experts. Nineteen states operate under a biennial budgeting cycle.