President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget may be delayed until as late as April 8, according to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, pushing the proposal further past its deadline for submission to Congress.
The administration said in February that the debate over taxes and spending at the end of last year and the across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in March 1 would push the target date for submitting the budget to mid-March.
McConnell said today that lawmakers learned last week that Obama won’t submit his budget plan until after Congress leaves for a two-week recess, which ends April 8.
The president’s budget for the following fiscal year is typically released on the first Monday in February, meaning it would be two months late this year.
“That goes far beyond the pale of just missing deadlines,” McConnell said.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, Jessica Santillo, said in an e-mail that she didn’t have an update on the budget’s release. White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We’re working on it,” when asked when the document would be ready.
The budget plan, which provides Congress with an outline of Obama’s priorities, would be for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and his party’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, said today he will release his budget proposal next week. He declined to provide details on what it would include.
Carney said that efforts by lawmakers in the House and the Senate to address the budget mean there's “some reason to hope” that the White House and Congress can agree on a spending plan and avoid the standoffs that have marked the budget debate over the last two years.
Acting White House budget director Jeffrey Zients wrote in a letter sent to Ryan in January that because the tax agreement wasn’t reached until Jan. 1, the administration was “forced to delay some of its FY 2014 budget preparations, which in turn will delay the budget’s submission to Congress.”
Congress mandated $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts spread over nine years, as part of a 2011 deal to increase the U.S. debt limit. The reductions, which took effect March 1, are to be split almost evenly between defense and non-defense spending.
The last time a budget plan was this late was when Obama took office in 2009 and the budget was submitted May 11, or 98 days after the legal deadline. Former President George W. Bush, in his first year in office, sent the budget to Congress on April 9, 2001, or 63 days late, according to House Budget Committee records.
The delay for Obama’s budget plan probably won’t change the political debate over fiscal issues. The president has said he’s planning to again seek funding for many of the proposals contained in last year’s $3.8 trillion budget, which was never adopted by Congress.