Biennial Budgeting: Issues, Options, and Congressional Actions [January 10, 2017]   [open pdf - 684KB]

"Difficulties in the timely enactment of budgetary legislation have long fueled interest in the idea that the congressional budget process could be better structured in a way that eases time constraints. [...] One long-discussed reform proposal would change the budget cycle from one to two years. Biennial budgeting includes several variations. It may involve multiyear authorizations, two-year budget resolutions, two-year appropriations, or some combination of the three. Most proposals incorporate all three factors. [...] Proponents of biennial budgeting generally contend that a two-year budget cycle would (1) reduce congressional workload by eliminating the need for annual review of routine matters, (2) reserve the second session of each Congress for improved congressional oversight and program review, and (3) allow better long-term planning at the federal, state, and local levels. Critics of biennial budgeting have countered that the projected benefits would prove to be illusory. Projecting revenues and expenditures for a two-year cycle requires forecasting as much as 30 months in advance [...] [resulting] in less accurate forecasts and could require Congress to choose between allowing the President greater latitude for making budgetary adjustments in the off-years or engaging in mid-cycle corrections to a degree that would effectively undercut any reduction in the workload or intended improvements in planning. Opponents also point out that annual review of appropriations requests is an important part of oversight that would be lost under a biennial budget [...]"

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R44732
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
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