Erik Wasson at The Hill reports:
The White House has informed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that it will miss the legal deadline for sending a budget to Congress.
Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients told Ryan (R-Wis.) in a letter late Friday that the budget will not be delivered by Feb. 4, as required by law.
In the letter, Zients says the administration is “working diligently on our budget request.”
The letter blames the late passage of the “fiscal cliff” deal for the delay, saying that because tax and spending issues were not resolved until Jan. 2, “the administration was forced to delay some of its FY 2014 budget preparations, which in turn will delay the budget’s submission to Congress.”
“We will submit it to Congress as soon as possible,” Zients writes.
Ryan last Wednesday had asked the White House in a letter if it would miss the deadline.
Under the law, President Obama must submit a budget by the first Monday in February, but he has met the deadline only once. The annual budget submission is supposed to start a congressional budgeting process, but that has also broken down. The Senate last passed a budget resolution in 2009.
Congress and the White House struck a budget deal on New Year’s Eve that avoided tax hikes on middle-class families and delayed a 2013 budget sequester until March.
That last-minute “fiscal cliff” deal has thrown a wrench into the annual budget process, sources say, because it did not finalize 2013 appropriations or replace nearly $1 trillion in automatic discretionary cuts imposed by the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal.
“They have no baseline,” one expert said. The expert said it may also be the case that the administration does not want the budget to be taken as an opening offer in the coming fight over raising the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling.
The Congressional Budget Office also faces fiscal cliff-related challenges in writing its annual budget outlook. That outlook, which normally comes out in January, is coming out Feb. 4, CBO announced Monday.
Republicans are demanding Obama propose sharp spending cuts to offset any increase in the ceiling.
Obama in a press conference Monday though reiterated his stance, pressing lawmakers to raise the debt limit without tying it to cuts or entitlement reform.
Failure to raise the ceiling will cause a default on payments ranging from Social Security benefits to tax refunds to bond interest, depending on how long it takes Washington to raise the limit and what bills Treasury decides to pay.
The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates default could come as early as Feb. 15.
Ryan’s office says that Obama has missed the budget deadline by more than any president since the 1920s. Obama’s first budget was delayed until May, while his second budget was delivered on time. The last two budgets were late but came in February.
The White House announcement comes as former Obama budget director and current Chief of Staff Jack Lew is awaiting confirmation as Obama’s new Treasury secretary, replacing outgoing Secretary Timothy Geithner.