U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the newest member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today said the appropriations process is broken and called for the adoption of a two-year budget – a major budgetary reform that has divided members of the Appropriations Committee – to allow more time for fiscal oversight.
“Biennial budgeting would enable us to pass a two-year budget during the first year and utilize the second year to take a good look at what federal programs are working and what ones are not. It would give us time for oversight, for fixing broken programs and eliminating unnecessary programs,” Alexander said. “That is the position I took before I was named to the Appropriations Committee and my view has not changed.
“There are plenty of pressures in Washington to spend more money and create new programs,” he added. “Two-year budgeting would create a counter-pressure for oversight, a review of spending and eliminating programs.”
Over the past several years, Congress has routinely been unable to pass its individual appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year. This has forced Congress to pass stop-gap legislation to keep the government operating, or giant “omnibus” appropriations bills (multiple spending bills rolled into one larger bill) containing costly, unrelated provisions that avoid the scrutiny they would get if considered during the normal appropriations process.
In 2005, Alexander was an original co-sponsor of S. 877, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act. In 2006, he was an original cosponsor of S. 3521, the Stop Over Spending (SOS) Act, a package of budgetary reforms that included biennial budgeting.
Alexander was named to the Senate Appropriations Committee by incoming Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Dec. 13. He will be the first Tennessee Republican to ever serve on the panel.