Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Johnny Isakson
Posted on 2015-01-13
ISAKSON (for himself, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Alexander, Ms.
Ayotte, Mr. Barrasso, Mr. Crapo, Ms. Collins, Mr. Enzi, Mrs.
Fischer, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Heinrich, Mr. Kaine, Mr. King, Ms.
Klobuchar, Mr. Lankford, Mr. Manchin, Mr. McCain, Ms.
Murkowski, Mr. Perdue, Mr. Portman, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Warner, Mr.
Johnson, and Ms. Heitkamp):
S. 150. A bill to provide for a biennial budget process and a
biennial appropriations process and to enhance oversight and the
performance of the Federal Government; to the Committee on the Budget.
Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I am very pleased to announce today that the biennial budget proposal introduced by Senators Isakson and Shaheen has been dropped. There are 21 cosponsors, 15 Republicans, 6 Democrats, and 1 Independent, and the number is growing as we speak.
Senator Shaheen and I started this initiative 2 years ago and it received 68 votes and a test vote on the budget in 2013. We believe it will receive the necessary votes to become the law of the land in the United States of America.
You might ask why a biennial budget or you might ask yourself why an $18 trillion debt and why hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit. We don't have the oversight necessary with the spending that we do now to keep us from wasting money. It is time we ran our country like we run our home. It is time we held our agencies accountable. It is time our appropriations weren't just idle promises but our oversight was the rule of law in the United States Senate.
Twenty States out of fifty in the United States have biennial budgets. Countries around the world have biennial budgets. This Congress 3 years ago did a biennial budget for the Veterans' Administration just to ensure we wouldn't have a break in funding if the government shut down. Predictability of funding of government is critical, but the oversight of that funding is more critical.
Picture this. You get elected in an even-numbered year, 2014. Your first order of business in 2015 is to pass a 2-year appropriations act and a 2-year budget. But then in the even-numbered year that comes up when you are running for reelection, your job is not spending, your job is oversight. Wouldn't it be nice, instead of going home and promising you are bringing home the bacon, instead you are bringing home the savings to see to it that taxpayers' money is better spent? The biennial budget is an idea whose time has come. It is the only way we are going to measurably and sustainably reduce the deficits and reduce the debt in the United States of America and hold our spending more accountable.
Just last night on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Clay bill was passed on suicide prevention, a new program in the VA, and the funding mechanism was existing funds and fungibility. We already know there is existing money in the appropriations to our agencies to pay for new ideas if we charge them to go find them. Some of the measures we have been funding for 40 or 50 years probably don't need to be done anymore and some of the things we are not doing probably need to be done. But the way to do it is not to spend more money and throw more money at the problem, but the way to do it is to do it the way the American taxpayers do it back home--sit around the kitchen table, set their priorities, make their funding predictable, and from time to time go back and look at where they are spending money and see if they can't improve it. This is an idea that will make America great.
Senator Shaheen is a former Governor of the State of New Hampshire. She had a biennial budget process in her State, and I wish to yield to her to describe her cosponsorship of this bill.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.