Days after an annual deadline on federal budgeting Gwinnett's leaders in Washington have spent this week trying to get action on a spending plan.
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, joined 36 other freshman congressman in calling on the Senate to take action on some legislation they believe will help with job growth.
"American businesses and taxpayers need the certainty that only a long-term budget can provide -- not more of the political theater that comes with budgetary stop-gap measures and showdowns over potential shutdowns," Woodall said. "In the meantime, however, the House has offered over a dozen legislative solutions -- currently lying in wait with the Senate -- that empower small businesses by removing excessive government regulation, streamlining our tax code, and putting Americans back to work. Think of the good these bills could already be doing if the Senate would just act."
With Woodall expressing frustration that the Senate has not passed a budget in more than 888 days, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, was hopeful, praising Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, for indicating he would support a transition to biennial budgeting.
Conrad and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama man who is the ranking Republican on the committee, indicated their support at a hearing for the Biennial Budget Appropriations Act, which Isakson has co-sponsored with Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire.
"Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Sessions' support is a critical step forward for biennial budgeting," Shaheen said in a press release. "Nobody understands better than they the challenges of producing an annual budget and the value in a more thoughtful approach that allows for greater accountability and oversight. I appreciate their willingness to examine this proposal fully and lend their support."
Isakson added, "I am very pleased that Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Sessions have signaled their support for fixing our broken-down budgeting process through implementing a biennial budget. I have advocated this change every year since arriving in the Senate because it will provide much-needed oversight in the appropriations process and shift the paradigm in Washinton to focus on how much Congress can save rather than on how much Congress can spend."
The bill would switch Congress from an annual spending process to a biennial, two-year cycle, dedicating one year to passing spending bills and the other year to scrutinizing federal programs. Since 1980, Congress has only twice completed the entire appropriations process before Oct. 1.
Woodall and his colleagues in the House had an even longer list of priorities they wanted the Senate to take up in a project dubbed "Operation Turnaround."
The bills include:
H.Con.Res.34, The Path to Prosperity FY2012 Budget Resolution
H.R. 872, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act
H.R. 910, The Energy Tax Prevention Act
H.J. Res. 37, Disapproval of FCC's Net Neutrality Regulations
H.R. 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act
H.R. 2560, The Cut, Cap and Balance Act
H.R. 1315, Consumer Financial Protection & Soundness Improvement Act
H.R. 2587, Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act
H.R. 1230, Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
H.R. 1229, Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act
H.R. 2021, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
H.R. 1938, North American-Made Energy Security Act
"The fact of the matter is that the House cannot legislate by itself," Woodall said. "The Senate needs to resume its integral role of moving viable solutions through Congress and on to the president's desk. I hope that this initiative will help to give Senate leaders a nudge in the right direction."
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Camie Young can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.