What if the gridlock in congress could be overcome without addressing partisan polarization, gerrymandering or campaign finance? The answer could be very simple, so simple in fact, no one has considered it.
The fix is biennial budgeting. Rather than having to try to agree on a new budget each year, Congress would approve budgets that were for two years.
Reid Ribble a Republican Representative from Wisconsin and the proponent of biennial budgeting said that Congress spends all its summers only doing appropriation bills.
Ribble says that a biennial budget would allow for the appropriations bills to be completed the first year of the budget and during the second year the committee hearings can be held to accomplish oversight on how the money is being managed by the agencies that has been appropriated to each of them.
Ribble’s bill that would change the process of budgeting already has 229 House co-sponsors and the lawmaker from Wisconsin said in the Senate, the bill has the support of the majority.
The Treasury secretary of the Obama administration Jack Lew has said that he also likes the biennial idea.
Critics of this concept have said it would hamper the ability of lawmakers to respond to changing conditions in the economy and would lower the oversight of spending in the government.
In reality, Congress has operated under a budget of two years since 2013, although the agreements have been negotiated behind closed doors with deadlines looming instead of in a formal process out in the open.
Paul Ryan the new House Speaker supported the budget reform in 2014 as the House Budget Committee chairman, but his office then deferred to the current committee chairman when they were asked if this year a biennial budget could be considered.
The current chairman of the Budget Committee Tom Price from Georgia said earlier this month at a hearing that Congress needed to be careful about upending its regular order.
He added that if the shift were made to biennial budgeting there would be a fundamental change in how Congress operates. Therefore, he added all the ramifications needed to be thoughtfully and carefully weighed.
Most feel that it is unlikely anything will be done this year about biennial budgeting, as the deadline for the new budget is growing ever so close.