Republican Explains How To Fix Congress With One Weird Trick

Rep. Reid Ribble is a proponent of biennial budgeting for Congress.
Rep. Reid Ribble is a proponent of biennial budgeting for Congress.

WASHINGTON -- What if congressional gridlock could be solved without addressing campaign finance, gerrymandering or partisan polarization? The solution could be so simple that it almost seems stupid. 

The idea is biennial budgeting: Instead of trying to agree on a budget every year, Congress would pass a budget every two years.

"We spend all of our summers doing nothing but appropriations bills," biennial budgeting proponent Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) told "So That Happened," the HuffPost politics podcast. 



"What this would do is, you'd get your budget appropriations bills done in year one," Ribble said. "And in year two you're able to actually do those committee hearings whereby you can actually do true oversight on how the agencies are managing the money you've appropriated to them." 

Ribble's bill to change the budgeting process already has 229 co-sponsors in the House, and the Wisconsin lawmaker says it has majority support in the Senate. The Obama administration's Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, has also said he likes the idea. 

Critics of the concept say it would hamper lawmakers' ability to respond to changing economic conditions and would reduce oversight of federal spending.

It just so happens Congress has been operating under two-year budgets since 2013, though the agreements have been hashed out behind closed doors with looming deadlines, rather than in the openness of a formal process. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supported biennial budget reform as chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2014, but his office deferred to the current chairman when asked if biennial budgeting could get a look this year. 

Current Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said at a hearing earlier this month that Congress should be careful about upending its regular order (aspirational as that order may be). 

"Were we to shift to biennial budgeting, it would fundamentally change how Congress operates," Price said. "Therefore, all its ramifications should be weighed carefully and thoughtfully."

This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Adriana Usero and Peter James Callahan, with assistance from Christine Conetta.

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