Biennial Budgeting Will Help Fix Washington's Broken Budget System

Every year, Congress is required to pass a budget as well as 12 different appropriations bills to fund the government for the upcoming fiscal year. These appropriations bills allocate federal spending priorities. Each year however, Congress consistently fails to pass a budget and the appropriations bills on time. Since 2001, Congress has only enacted 8.3% of appropriations bills before the deadline. Congress then relies on short-term spending bills that create more economic uncertainty and disdain among the American people. As a result, Congress wastes billions of dollars allocating funds to programs that are wasteful and duplicative because it doesn't have enough time to properly review those departments and agencies and their budget and spending activities.

It's worse in election years. In the past eight election years, Congress has failed to even pass a budget 75% of the time. This is a clear failure to govern. In order to foster greater economic certainty, create a better functioning and more efficient federal government, Congressman Ribble believes the govnerment should convert to a biennial budgeting system. Twenty states, including Wisconsin, use a biennial system and have seen great results. That is why Congressman Ribble introduced H.R. 1869, The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act of 2013. This legislation has 140 bipartisan cosponsors.

Update: On February 11, 2014, the House Budget Committee approved Congressman Ribble's  biennial budgeting legislation on a strong 22-10 bipartisan vote.

Biennial budgeting is supported by the following organizations:

Americans for Tax Reform - a center-right organization

"The bill could reverse current practices that are biased towards waste, not prudence. Agencies are rarely able to plan effectively in the shortened budget windows created by stopgap measures. As such, most develop a “use it or lose it” mentality, spending billions in the last few weeks of the year to avoid having their baselines reduced the following year." Click here to read the full support letter.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget - a non-partisan budget organization

"The primary benefit of a biennial budget cycle is the extra time it permits Congress and the White House to take a more careful look at our budget and federal programs, particularly those currently on auto-pilot. In order to fix our pressing fiscal problems, we must go through our spending and tax policies with a fine-toothed comb and determine what works, what needs fixing, and what doesn't work." Click here to read the full support letter.

Third Way - a center-left organization

"A comprehensive biennial budget cycle would also encourage more vigorous oversight of federal programs. This improvement would help reorient congressional responsibility away from simply spending money, and towards effective stewardship of the nation. America's fiscal health depends to a great extent on the dedication of congressional oversight. With such a process, budget reform would become a critical part of smart fiscal policy." Click here to read the full support letter.

Concord Coalition - a nonpartisan budget watchdog

"Lurching from crisis to crisis is not budgeting but chaos. A switch to biennial budgeting could provide some much-needed stability in the budget process and help to avoid the wasteful rush of deadline-driven decisions that simply push money out the door." Click here to read the full support letter.

Update: Click here to read Concord Coalition's blog post on House Budget Committee passage of biennial budgeting.

National Taxpayers Union - a center-right organization

"Currently, many agencies operate under a "use it or lose it" philosophy at the end of the fiscal year...One option for reducing this practice would be converting to biennial budgeting [to fix our broken budget process]. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) has introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1869, to do so." Click here to read the full testimony.

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste - a nonpartisan budget watchdog

"Specifically, the proposed reform would force Congress to become better stewards of the taxpayers’ money by placing Congress on a two-year budget cycle, with one year devoted to appropriating federal dollars and the other year devoted to oversight of federal programs." Click here to read the article supporting biennial budgeting.

No Labels - a nonpartisan group dedicated to making government work

"Congress, especially in an election year, has a bad track record of completing the budget process. Passing the budget and appropriations bills in off years will allow Congress to focus on overseeing the effectiveness of federal programs during election years." Click here to learn about No Labels' support.

ICYMI: Ribble op-ed published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette: Bring a slice of Wisconsin to nation's budget process

Click the picture below to view Congressman Ribble's recent floor speech on biennial budgeting.

Click here to view the press release on Mr. Ribble's biennial budgeting legislation. Below are a few bullet points on H.R. 1869.

The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act of 2013

  • Establishes a two-year, “biennial” budgeting cycle for U.S. government
  • Year 1 of biennium (odd-numbered years): Congress would draft and adopt a budget plan covering the next two years. This plan would provide the framework for the consideration of legislation with fiscal implications over the course of the entire Congress.
  • Year 2 of biennium (even-numbered years): Congress would focus on conducting detailed oversight of government agencies and programs.
  • Biennial process would provide more budget stability and certainty by doing away with the current ad-hoc appropriation process.  Federal departments and agencies would know a full year in advance the resources they will have available, giving them the ability to plan into the future and implement cost-saving measures to make the most of every dollar.

Recently, H.R. 1869 surpassed 100 bipartisan House cosponsors. Click here to view the press release.