A Two-Year Budgeting Process

By February 13, 2008General

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) visited with some bloggers yesterday to outline his proposal for a two-year budgeting and appropriations process to bring some accountability to Congress’ spending practices. It certainly is a worthwhile topic for debate (although not really a matter that the NAM would weigh in on).

Under Isakson’s proposal, the president would submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of Congress, i.e., the odd-numbered year following the election. Congress would adopt a two-year budget resolution, a reconciliation bill (if necessary), and two year appropriations bills during the first session of a Congress. During the second year, Congress would consider authorization bills and conduct oversight of federal programs.

In the conference call, Isakson placed a fair amount of emphasis on the oversight responsibility, seeing it as way for Congress to address seriously the effectiveness of government program.s

Those of us who have watched two-year budgeting at the state level (specifically, North Dakota and Oregon) will attest that the process can work — certainly better than what Congress manages these days. As Isakson noted on the Senate floor last October, Congress just isn’t getting the job done now on passing appropriations measures on time. More often than not, appropriations bills are rolled into an omnibus legislation, allowing all sorts of mischief, earmarks and logrolling to win out over reasoned spending policy.

Isakson is scheduled to discuss his proposal at an event Thursday at the Heritage Foundation. Well worth paying attention to.

UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): A column in The National Review online by Sens. Isakson and Sessions.

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