Budget Issues:

Biennial Budgeting Bills in the 101st Congress

AFMD-89-79BR: Published: Jun 20, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on biennial budgeting proposals in the 101st Congress.

GAO found that: (1) as of April 30, 1989, the 101st Congress had introduced six biennial budgeting bills; (2) two of the bills proposed to stretch the current budget process by having Congress complete all budget-related actions over the 2-year session; (3) three of the bills proposed to assign congressional budget-related actions to either the first or second session; and (4) one bill, patterned after a legislative/executive budget summit, called for a macro-level joint budget resolution during the first session. GAO also found that: (1) state experiences with biennial budgeting at the appropriation account level have had mixed success; and (2) the Department of Defense, at congressional direction, submitted a biennial budget for fiscal years 1988 through 1989 as a test of the concept, but Congress did not approve the full 2-year budget and the appropriation committees did not take up the second-year submission. GAO believes that macro-level biennial budgeting offers a beneficial opportunity for streamlining the budget process, since it: (1) provides for the enactment of appropriation bills without the need for continuing resolutions; (2) permits Congress to focus on broad policy issues without getting bogged down in innumerable details regarding the exact appropriation amount; and (3) could reduce the congressional budget work load and allow more time for oversight and other legislative activities.

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