The White House is delaying for one week the release of President Obama's budget for the 2013 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, a decision that administration officials say was based on "the need to finalize decisions and technical details" but which Republicans say is a direct violation of law.
"This will mark the third time in four years the president has missed his statutory requirement to present a budget on time, while trillion-dollar budget deficits continue to mount. As the president announces another missed deadline, tomorrow marks the 1,000th day Senate Democrats have gone without any budget at all," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, called it "an inauspicious way to launch his State of the Union address."
The 1974 Budget Act requires the president to submit a budget request to Congress on the first Monday in February -- which this year is Feb. 6 -- but the administration has scheduled the release for Feb. 13. In 2009 and 2011, the president also did not make the deadline.
The Budget Act also requires Congress to pass a budget resolution by April 15 every year, which the House did last year. The Senate, however, never provided a blueprint, and Congress was forced to pass a "megabus" to go along with individual bills negotiated after the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
After last year's failed attempts at budget deals, election-year expectations are low that Obama and Congress will be able to make progress this year on deficits that required the government to borrow 36 cents of every dollar it spent last year despite calls by both sides to reduce the level of spending over the next decade.
Meanwhile, as Obama plans his budget, his budget director since 2010, Jacob Lew, is now his White House chief of staff. Obama appointed Jeff Zients as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.
As the president prepares his State of the Union address for Tuesday night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told reporters that he's hopeful Congress and Obama will at least be able to agree upon enough budget savings to forestall across-the-board budget cuts.
The cuts are required in the wake of last year's failure by a so-called deficit super committee to come up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts mandated by the debt limit agreement.
But calling for tough decisions to tackle "the merciless math of Washington's current fiscal trajectory," Ryan said Obama punts, while his party's leaders in the Senate "have simply abandoned responsible budgeting altogether."
"We deserve better than a president unwilling to meet his legal and moral obligation to tackle our nation's most pressing challenges. We deserve better than the President’s path to debt, doubt and decline," Ryan, R-Wis., said.
In a side note to earth-friendly budget watchers, when the budget is released, consistent with administration-wide efforts to reduce spending, free printed copies of the federal budget will not be provided to the media. However, the complete budget will be free online and available for purchase through the Government Printing Office.