Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Trump may skip early budget blueprint, hindering approps bills

February 7, 2017Erik Wasson,  Laura Curtis  & Kathleen Hunter

This article was first available to Bloomberg Government subscribers. 

President Donald Trump’s administration may forgo submitting to Congress a bare bones budget outline this month, postponing its fiscal blueprint until as late as May.

By law, a president’s budget request is due to Congress on the first Monday in February, a deadline rarely met. In the first year of a new administration, the Office of Management and Budget will sometimes do a less-detailed version, with top-line numbers for 10 years, while refining the details of agency spending.

A House Republican lawmaker with close ties to the administration has been told that the administration is now weighing skipping that February effort in order to concentrate on delivering a full budget request by early May.

Such a move could have far reaching effects on the congressional spending bill timetable for fiscal 2018, making another stopgap continuing resolution in the fall more likely.

Lawmakers have expected the budget committees to wait for signals from the administration on how it wants to approach cuts to discretionary and entitlement spending as well as tax code changes before forging ahead with a fiscal 2018 budget resolution. Without the top-line numbers in that resolution and spending data from the White House, appropriators would be hamstrung.

Interim House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black said in an interview that the administration hasn’t notified her about when it will send up a fiscal plan. Asked how any delay could affect her own House budget resolution, Black said that the committee will mark up a budget “at the appropriate time.”

Budget Director nominee Mick Mulvaney had said he hoped to send a skinny budget this month — before Feb. 28, when Trump is scheduled to address Congress.

With Mulvaney’s confirmation by the Senate stalled until next week at the earliest, the new OMB head would have just over a week to put together the blueprint after taking office to meet the Feb. 28 goal. To complete the blueprint, Mulvaney would need to get administration consensus on whether the budget will balance in 10 years — something he favors — and how to achieve the cuts needed to do that.

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