"The current budget process is broken,? says Senator Thompson. ?We need to enact sensible reforms, such as the biennial budget legislation, to give Congress more time for the important tasks that often get short shrift these days, such as conducting oversight and long-range planning, and spending more time at home with the people who sent us here."
Senator Thompson is working to do just that. He, along with Senators Pete Domenici and Joe Lieberman, has introduced S. 92, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act. This legislation converts the annual budget, appropriations and authorization process to a two-year cycle. This bill makes budgeting and appropriating a priority for the first session of each Congress, with the second session reserved for the consideration of authorization bills and oversight of federal programs.
This legislation enjoys bipartisan support and was the subject of a joint hearing held by the Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Committee on the Budget this past January. In March, the Committee approved legislation and sent it to the full Senate for consideration by a vote of 9 - 4 vote.
Senator Thompson has also led the fight to improve control over federal emergency spending and in preventing future government shutdowns. Under Senator Thompson's leadership, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved two additional budget process reform bills. S. 557 is intended to help control government spending designated as emergencies by requiring that any spending designated as an "emergency" must meet certain criteria. Further, the bill establishes a point of order in the Senate against spending designated as an "emergency." The point of order can be waived by an affirmative vote of a simple majority.
S. 558 is intended to prevent a federal government shutdown when Congress and the President fail to reach a timely agreement on the annual appropriations bills. This bill would ensure that federal government activities depending on such funding would continue without threat of interruption due to lack of funding.
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