Majority Leader Harry Reid, latching on to an idea aimed at easing the yearly pain Congress goes through in setting spending plans, said Thursday that he’s open to exploring a two-year budget cycle.
“This has been something that has been looked at by a lot of people. We have had, over the years, many people who’ve said that this is probably a good idea,” Reid said. “And if we were ever going to do that, we should take a look at it now because we’re getting back into the appropriations process.”
Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced a bill (S 554) this week that would move Congress to a two-year cycle, and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-N.C., introduced a similar bill in the House with five GOP co-sponsors.
“We can’t fix our debt and deficits until we fix our budget process, and biennial budgeting is a smart way to move forward,” said Shaheen, a former governor of New Hampshire, one of several states that operate on two-year budget cycles.
“Biennial budgeting will help remove uncertainty that currently blunts economic growth but will also give us a better opportunity to exercise oversight and rein in excess spending,” she added. “I have pushed for biennial budgeting every year I’ve been in the Senate.”
In a statement, Wilson said, “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.”
Reid said he was appointed to a group exploring the issue by then-Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine; the group also included his longtime appropriations colleague Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M. However, Reid said, the effort ran into trouble because of opposition from, among others, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
“Sen. Byrd was opposed to it, and that made it very difficult and we got nothing done. But it’s something I would really like to take a look at. It’s something we should consider,” Reid said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.