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Area Lawmakers Work To Change Budget Process

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Virginia Senator Mark Warner thinks changing the Congressional budget process to be more like state governments would reduce gridlock and encourage a balanced budget.
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Virginia Senator Mark Warner thinks changing the Congressional budget process to be more like state governments would reduce gridlock and encourage a balanced budget.

After barely avoiding two government shut downs this year lawmakers in the region want to change the way Congress handles the federal budget. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) is respected on both sides of the aisle on fiscal issues, but when asked to give Congress a grade on its annual budgeting process, he demured.

“It’s a fair question, but it’s a longer answer than I’m going to give you," Mark Warner says with a laugh.

Even if Warner won’t offer a grade, he says he doesn’t think the current budget process is serving the American people well. It’s been more than two years since Congress passed a budget. And when Congress does pass its spending blueprint, it doesn’t have to adhere to it down the road. When Warner was governor of Virginia he worked under a two year budget -- called a biennial budget - -and he says that could translate well at the federal level. 

“It gives you time both to do more planning, as well as do more oversight in the off years," he says.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) says he’s neutral on the question of an annual or biennial budget, but he says he wants to see Congress adopt an enforcement mechanism that would require a budget be produced before lawmakers get sidetracked with other policy debates. 

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