Budget Counsel Reference Directory

Biennial Budgeting

Biennial Budgeting.—Biennial budgeting is at its core simply to budget for two years at a time rather than annually. While that is simple, with the budget process as it is, it can open up important questions as to what it means. A full biennial budget means that all authorizations, budget resolutions, and appropriations must be made for not less than two years. This proves problematic when certain specific  situations arise. For example, the Defense Authorization bill is enacted every year and this would have to change, disrupting a process that has been set in practice for a significant period of time. In addition, when appropriations run out at the end of the year and Congress, as happens most years, has not been able to enact bills for the coming fiscal year, short term bills are passed that only last for short periods of time, sometimes only a day or two. This would have to change if a strict “biennial” policy were to be enforced. 

Other biennial proposals fall short of the entirety, such as only passing a budget resolution every two-years, or alternatively, only passing appropriation bills every two years. These mixed proposals have received less attention, and a fully formed biennial budget bill, one that is seriously written and thought through, has yet to be considered by Congress.


Mercatus Policy Paper – Biennial Budgeting- A Look at Intents vs. Potential Outcomes (Mercatus) March 2016

CBO – Biennial Budgeting (Congressional Budget Office Staff Working Paper) November 1987



§005. Authorizations


§007. Budget Enforcement

[BCR §006]