Legislation Would Scrap Annual Budget Process

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Jim Cole/AP File Photo

Lawmakers in both chambers are pushing legislation that would move Congress from an annual budget process to a two-year cycle to provide greater stability for federal agencies.

Biennial budgeting would require Congress to enact a two-year budget during its first session, and then focus on oversight of government programs, authorizing legislation and necessary measures to respond to emergencies or unforeseen events during the second session. Currently, the House and Senate have nine months to agree on and pass a budget as well as 12 separate appropriations bills funding the government. Since 1980, Congress has only twice completed the appropriations process before the annual Oct. 1 deadline.

Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on Thursday introduced legislation in the upper chamber to switch to a two-year budget cycle; Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., unveiled a similar bill in the House last week.

“Moving from a one-year to a two-year budget process will allow Congress to devote more time and attention to the wasteful programs and policies that need reform,” Wilson said.

Isakson has filed the bill as stand-alone legislation and as an amendment to the continuing resolution to fund the government through fiscal 2013. The Senate is considering amendments to the CR on Thursday, with a final vote on the legislation expected on Friday.

This is not the first time that Congress has considered shifting to a modified budget schedule. But the epic budget battles during the past two years, an out-of-control deficit, and the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1 have made the need for reform more urgent.

“The budget process is broken,” Shaheen said. “We’ve dealt with one too many manufactured budget crises and now automatic cuts are threating jobs and economic growth because of Washington’s inability to budget properly.”

Isakson and Shaheen sponsored legislation moving to a two-year budget cycle during the last Congress. The Georgia senator has sponsored biennial budgeting proposals since 2005, and Shaheen is familiar with biennial budgeting during her six-year tenure as governor of New Hampshire. Many state, local and foreign governments operate under biennial or multi-year spending cycles. Currently 20 states operate under on a biennial budget cycle.

The cons to biennial budgeting could include less flexibility for agencies since they would have to plan their budgets two years in advance and an increase in the number of supplemental appropriations bills. But supporters of the idea have said the advantages of moving to such as process outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.