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.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.