October 31, 2014

Two-Year Budget Cycle Could Improve Oversight

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

The House Budget Committee last week approved a bill on a bipartisan 22-10 vote that would switch the annual congressional budget process to a biennial (two-year) cycle.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.), a committee member, has attracted 100 co-sponsors, roughly a third of whom are Democrats.

Ideally, biennial budgeting would help Congress improve its allocation and oversight of discretionary spending, which makes up a third of the budget.

Congress is already using a biennial budget cycle of sorts. Late last year, the Ryan-Murray budget agreement set top-line spending numbers for Fiscal 2014 and 2015. With the recent congressional approval of spending plans for this year, appropriators now have opportunity to move forward quickly on 2015 legislation.

While process reform is no substitute for a long-term fiscal sustainability plan, biennial budgeting would be an important step in the right direction.