Sen. Jeff Sessions urged the adoption of a two-year budget cycle Tuesday that he says would allow for proper oversight of federal-agency spending and end what has become a regular cycle of stopgap measures hammered together “under threat of panic” to fund the government.
“For two consecutive years, the Senate has simply refused to adopt a budget resolution. It’s been 888 days. We’re not passing appropriations bills — we’re funding the government with stopgap measures, or cramming all our spending bills into one big omnibus,” the Alabama Republican said during a Senate Budget Committee hearing.
“This is no way to run a budget or a government,” he added, noting that federal spending has reached nearly $4 trillion a year, with almost half of that amount borrowed. “Yet, the myth persists in Washington that we can manage this mammoth budget through last-minute deals, struck in closed-door meetings, rushed to a vote under threat of panic.
“But we can’t — and we shouldn’t — operate our nation’s finances in this way,” Sessions continued. “Especially not during a time of fiscal and economic crisis.”
Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget panel, introduced a reform bill earlier this year he said would make it “more difficult for Congress to skirt its responsibilities” of producing a budget on time.
Under his measure, Congress would implement a biennial budget process that would lock in government spending levels for a two-year period, rather than one year.
Sessions said the two-year cycle approach would “make it easier to save money and perform effective oversight.”
“Under the current system,” he noted, “an executive agency has to begin working on its budget for next fiscal year before the current budget has been adopted or approved … Additionally, by switching to a two-year plan, it will be easier for agencies to reduce waste and conduct long-term planning.
“But the greatest advantage offered by a two-year budget cycle is the enhanced oversight.”
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