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From the Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today reintroduced legislation that would transform Congress' broken budget process. The Budget Reform Act of 2013 (S. 280), based on a plan first introduced by Thune in 2010, would require Congress to establish a biennial budgeting timeline in which Congress would pass a two-year biennial budget and appropriation bills in the odd numbered years, and in even numbered election years Congress would concentrate on oversight of government spending. Under this bill, the budget would also have to be signed into law by the president. 

"Failure by the Democrat-led Senate to pass, let alone propose a formal budget for nearly four years has pushed our country to the brink of fiscal chaos," said Thune. "The Senate's failure to pass a formal budget resolution and Congress' inability to pass appropriations bills are clear indications that the current process is broken. My common-sense legislation would require Congress to pass a budget and appropriation bills in odd numbered years, so that elected officials are forced to conduct oversight and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse across the federal government in even numbered years. American families are required to live by a budget, and Congress should be no different."

This bill is cosponsored by Senators Chambliss (R-Ga.), Portman (R-Ohio), and Vitter (R-La.).

The Budget Reform Act of 2013:

Biennial Budget

Establishes a biennial budgeting timeline. In odd numbered years, Congress would pass a two-year biennial budget. That same year, Congress would pass two-year appropriation bills. A biennial budget would give Congress more time for oversight of government spending and to reduce and eliminate unnecessary programs during even numbered years. This provision is particularly important because Congress has only completed all of the annual appropriation bills on-time in four of the last 36 years. Should Congress fail to pass a biennial budget and appropriation measures by September 30, there would be an automatic Continuing Resolution at the previous year's funding level (not to exceed specified discretionary spending caps).

Binding Federal Budget

Adds teeth to the budget process by requiring a biennial joint budget resolution that has the force of law rather than the current process of passing a concurrent budget resolution, which is not signed into law. Under the Budget Reform Act, the president would have to either sign the budget into law, or veto the budget, thereby forcing the president and Congress to work together to enact solutions that address the nation's fiscal challenges. If the president vetoes the joint budget resolution, Congress must vote on the veto override. If this veto override fails, an automatic Continuing Resolution is put in place for the relevant biennium.