By Erik Wasson
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday asked the White House if it will once again miss the legal deadline for submitting an annual budget to Congress.
Under the law, 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.
“Given the critical importance of addressing our nation's fiscal problems, I am writing to ask whether the President will submit his budget request this year on or before February 4 as required by law,” Ryan wrote in a letter to Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients. “If the Administration does not plan to meet the statutory deadline, when do you anticipate the request being made?”
Congress and the White House struck a budget deal on New Year’s Eve that raised taxes over 10 years and delayed a 2013 budget sequester this year by two months. The "fiscal cliff" deal has thrown a wrench into the annual budget process, sources have said, making a delay likely.
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The budget will likely play a role in an upcoming fight over raising the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. Republicans are demanding Obama propose big cuts to entitlements to offset any increase in the ceiling. Failure to raise the ceiling will cause a debt default.
Ryan’s office says that Obama has missed the budget deadline by more than any president since the 1920s.
His letter comes as former Obama budget director and current chief of staff Jack Lew is about to be tapped as Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says that Lew is unfit for the job based on allegedly misleading statements he made to the committee regarding Obama’s 2012 budget. Lew proponents say that Sessions has been taking Lew’s comments out of context.