Boehner, GOP Pressure Obama to Balance Budget
As President Obama misses a deadline today to submit a budget proposal to Congress, Republicans are working to advance techniques that not only pressure the president to present a budget plan, but also to rein in federal spending.
By law, the president is required to submit a budget request to Congress for the upcoming fiscal year by the first Monday of February. The only time Obama met the deadline during his presidency was in 2011.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, delivered remarks on the House floor this afternoon, declaring that by ignoring the deadline imposed by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, Obama "missed a great opportunity" to help the U.S. economy.
"This was supposed to be the day that the president submitted his budget to the Congress, but it's not coming. It's gonna be late," Boehner said. "That's too bad. Our economy could use some presidential leadership right now."
Explaining the delay, the Office of Management and Budget announced last month that the president's budget would not be released until Feb. 13, "based on the need to finalize decisions and technical details of the document." The president is also scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 12.
The spat is the latest disagreement in a series of budgetary showdowns between Democrats and Republicans.
The House will vote later this week on a Republican-sponsored bill, H.R. 444, known as "Require a PLAN Act," mandating that if the president does not submit a budget to Congress that balances within a 10-year budget window, he is required to provide a supplemental budget that eventually balances someday in the future.
While the House is expected to approve the measure, it will almost certainly stall in the Democrat-led Senate.
"We spend $1 trillion more than we take in each year," House Budget chairman Paul Ryan wrote in a statement. "We can't keep that up. If we stay on this path, our finances will collapse, the economy will stall, and the most vulnerable will suffer."
Despite the prodding, Democrats don't seem eager to heed Republican calls for a balanced budget.
"Republicans need to stop governing by soundbite," said Drew Hammill, communications director for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "The bill they will bring to the floor this week does nothing to address the urgent needs of the American people, nor does it avert any of the upcoming GOP manufactured crises or the sequester, which will destroy jobs, harm our recovery and hurt the middle class."
Today, Boehner also suggested the president use his forthcoming budget blueprint to present a plan to replace the sequester, which slashes more than $1 trillion from federal spending over the next decade. While the GOP-led House has not yet addressed the looming cuts during the new 113 th Congress, Republicans voted twice during the last session of Congress to offset the spending cuts. Senate Democrats never considered either measure.
The sequester is now scheduled to begin taking effect March 27 after the Fiscal Cliff deal delayed implementation for about three months.
"Our goal is to grow the economy, expand opportunity and prosperity and ensure America maintains its leading role in the world with a strong national defense, and to do that we need to budget responsibly," Boehner said. "But to replace the president's sequester, we need our Democrat colleagues to get serious about spending."
The Budget Act of 1974 requires each house of Congress to pass an annual budget resolution by April 15. The Senate has not passed a budget resolution since April 29, 2009, although Democratic leaders there say they expect to meet the deadline this year.
When Congress acted late last month to temporarily lift the debt ceiling, lawmakers pinned the increase to a provision that promotes timely passage of the budget.
The No Budget No Pay Act of 2013, which passed the House Jan. 23 and the Senate Jan. 31, directs both chambers of Congress to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15, 2013. If either body fails to pass a budget, members of that body would have their paychecks put into an escrow account starting on April 16 until that body adopts a budget. Nevertheless, any pay that is withheld would eventually be released at the end of the current Congress even if a budget doesn't ever pass.
President Obama has not yet signed the legislation into law, but the White House has signaled that he does not intend to veto it.
**Update: Shortly after this article was posted, the White House announced Monday evening that President Obama signed H.R. 325 into law.