Push for biennial budgets wins House majority

The bipartisan drive for biennial budgets has won enough support to pass the House.

On the same day that Congress passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown, legislation designed to prevent such 11th-hour clashes from happening each year gained its 218th endorsement, marking a majority of the lower chamber.

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Sponsored by Reps. Reid RibbleReid RibbleTrump muddies GOP message on protecting the Constitution The emerging fundraising rebellion GOP fears next Trump blowup MORE (R-Wis.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the legislation would extend the budget cycle from one year to two — a move supporters say would preclude annual spending fights and free Congress to focus more attention on other pressing issues.

“We're facing budget crisis after budget crisis and by adopting this bill we would able to avoid stress and uncertainty, not only for our government, but for the American people who expect us to do our jobs,” Schrader said.

The biennial budget concept has gained steam in recent cycles as partisanship has become more entrenched and spending fights have sucked much of the oxygen from Capitol Hill. 

In 2013, an impasse over the fate of President Obama's healthcare reform law caused the government to close for 16 days. And earlier this year, a fight over Obama's immigration policies shuttered the Homeland Security Department for a short time.

Wednesday's passage of a continuing resolution prevented a shutdown on Thursday. But funding expires again in mid-December, setting the stage for another end-of-the-year face-off over the size and reach of the federal government.

Backers of the Ribble-Schrader bill are hoping to eliminate — or at least reduce — those shutdown threats for the sake of the nation's economy and congressional efficiency.

“America is a tremendous economic engine, and our federal budget needs consistency, reliability, and thorough oversight to function efficiently,” Ribble said.

The issue cuts across ideological lines, with supporters of the bill ranging from conservative lawmakers such as Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite, and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the conservative chairman of the Budget Committee, to liberals such as Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

On Wednesday, four more lawmakers endorsed the bill — Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) — bringing the number of co-sponsors to 221.

In the upper chamber, Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have introduced similar legislation. That bill currently has the backing of 25 cosponsors.