Floor and Committee Statements

“Thank you, Mr. President. I come with a labor of love to the floor of the United States Senate tonight. We’re talking about confirmations of people for secretary positions on the Cabinet of the new president. We’re talking about all kind of things, and we’re in a budget period of time.

“We’re talking this year about having two budgets. One we’ll use early, and one we’ll use late. But the truth of the matter is since 1980, we haven't passed all 12 appropriations bills in a year but twice.

“In other words, in the last 37 years, we’ve only twice done our job that we ought to do every year. So, two years out of 37, we did it, [but] 35 years, we did not do it.

“I’m joining with the distinguished senator from New Hampshire, [who was] a great governor of that state and now a great member of the United States Senate, to propose for the fourth Congress in a row an idea that’s so simple and so great that it works, and it works for all the American people. It’s called the biennial budget process.

“What it does is, it embraces a discipline for how you budget to bring about the right solutions, in terms of what you do budget. What the biennial budget process says is [that] we would be far better off if we had more oversight of spending, more authorization of projects, and more discipline in the way we spend the money we’re already spending, before we start appropriating more.

“Therefore, in every even-numbered year, we ought to do oversight of our spending and we ought to do accountability in our spending process and we ought to do no appropriations. In our odd-number years – the nonelection years – that’s when you appropriate [for the next two years].

“Every other year you’re spending and every other year you’re doing accountability. That causes the cream to rise to the top. All of a sudden in one year, we have departments coming to say, ‘We do’'t have time for oversight. We have to authorize more.’ They’ll instead come to us and say, ‘Here’s how we want to spend the money, the savings we found, and here’s how we want to move forward in a more efficient way.’

It’s a little bit like my kitchen table in my family. All the way through my 49 years of marriage, my wife and I and our kids have sat around the kitchen table deciding on what our family priorities are –  from our vacations to our jobs – and budgeted our money for that year, for that purpose, so we could pay our bills, enjoy the time we have together, and end up not being broke at the end of the year.

“What happens when you don’t do that is, as a government, you end up owing $19 trillion and don’t know how to pay for it.

“We cannot continue to spend at the escalated rate that we’re spending without more accountability on the process. I think the biennial budget process is the right way to go.

“Now, there’s documentation for that. The distinguished senator from New Hampshire was a governor of a state that had a biennial budget. 19 of the 50 states have biennial budgets, and they work fine. They give [states] the luxury of doing what we don’t do in Washington. They give them the luxury of having the time to study their appropriations, find savings in existing taxation before they start raising anybody’s taxes or appropriating any more.

“It’s a simple, disciplined way of going about the business of spending the people’s money in the same way they make their determination.

“You know, I ran a pretty large company for 19 years and was in business for 35 years before I came to Congress. And I know that running a business is hard, but it’s not hard because it’s complex. It’s hard because it’s tough. And prioritizing your appropriations is tough business, but somebody has got to do it, and the people elected to the Congress of the United States are elected to do that job.

“I’m proud to join Senator Shaheen and urge all members to vote for a biennial budget process in the Congress of the United States.

“I remind everybody in the room that we had this vote a few years ago as a test vote on an all-night vote-a-rama on the budget. We got 68 votes if I remember correctly, in favor of the biennial budget.

“We’ve had past budget committee chairmen vote in favor of the biennial budget. We’ve had people from the majority and minority vote for it. The fact of the matter is, it’s a good idea whose time has come. I’m pleased to join Senator Shaheen from New Hampshire and plead to the members of the United States Senate, let’s do what we ask the American people do: Let’s prioritize the way we spend our money, find savings where we can, and run a more efficient, and transparent government for all.

“I yield to the distinguished senator from New Hampshire.”