Murkowski Backs Effort to Take Budgets off “Autopilot”, Meaning Fiscal Certainty and Fewer Federal Budget Unknowns

Senator Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Bill for Biennial Budgeting

Senator Lisa Murkowski is joining two dozen of her U.S. Senate colleagues in co-sponsoring S.150, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act – an effort to set funding levels at two year increments instead of the current standard of twelve months. Such a move would create more certainty for government agencies to set longer term agendas.

“The federal government has an oversized presence in Alaska, so leaving these agencies in the dark about their funding levels until the eleventh hour stalls projects and all too often keeps government spending on autopilot,” said Senator Murkowski.  “Not only would this bill curb the likelihood of a shutdown, it would allow for stronger oversight of Alaskans’ tax dollars and more responsible budgeting.”

The biennial budgeting concept has been endorsed by Republican and Democratic presidents, as well as by numerous federal budget experts, and twenty states currently operate under a biennial budgeting cycle.  According to a Harvard Study, “An effective biennial budget could streamline the budget process and free up more legislative time for legislators to handle other matters important to constituents. It could also lead to greater fiscal discipline if combined with discretionary spending caps.

“The last few budgeting cycles illustrate the need to reform our process,” continued Murkowski.  “We have to move past the last minute, partisan brinksmanship that caused the shutdown in 2013 and created unnecessary anxiety nationwide.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build a more responsible budget process.”

Background details: The legislation would require the president to submit a two-year budget at the beginning of the first session of a Congress. Members of Congress would then need to adopt a two-year budget resolution, a reconciliation bill if necessary and two-year appropriations bills during that first session. The second session of a Congress would then be devoted to the consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs.  The legislation was introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) with 22 Senators from both parties co-sponsoring the effort.