The Obama Administration has a habit of missing deadlines. Major provisions of the President’s flawed health-care law, for example, have been delayed dozens of times.
The same tardiness is true for the President’s annual budget, which is due to Congress on or before the first Monday in February. Required by federal law, the budget proposal outlines the President’s funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year.
Obstructing the Budget Process
It is disappointing that President Obama cannot adhere to the timetable for a fundamental executive responsibility. When the President’s budget is late, it slows down the entire process for funding the federal government. That was the situation last year, when President Obama did not submit his budget for fiscal year 2014 until April. By then, both the House of Representatives and the Senate had passed budget resolutions – breaking a 92-year tradition in which the President had kicked off the appropriations process with his budget request. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) then refused to bring any spending bills to the floor for a vote, further flouting regular order and federal law.
Congress Should Follow the Law
Returning to a customary and lawful appropriations process would be a responsible step toward putting America on a sustainable financial path. Families and small businesses around the country make difficult decisions every day to stay within their budgets. There is no reason why the federal government cannot do the same. Instead of relying on temporary funding measures, Congress should work to pass a budget resolution before the April 15 deadline and then ensure spending bills become law before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I will be vocal in demanding that the legislative and executive branches fulfill their responsibilities.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have already indicated that a budget resolution will likely not be adopted this year, even though it is required by the Budget Act of 1974. If that happens, it would be the fourth time in five years that the Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget.
Last year’s rare budget debate spearheaded a “vote-a-rama” in the Senate, in which numerous amendments were considered. The amendment process forces both Democrats and Republicans to go on the record regarding critical issues. Many have suggested that Democratic Leader Harry Reid will use the upcoming midterm election as an excuse not to bring a budget resolution to the floor this year. Punting on the budget would shield Democrats on the November ballot from politically unpopular votes.
As elected representatives, Senators have an obligation to let the American people know where we stand on tough issues. I welcome the opportunity to fulfill this responsibility that Mississippians entrusted to me.
Alarming $17 Trillion Debt
In a weekly address last year, President Obama correctly noted that budgets “expose what our priorities are as a country for all to see.” With the federal debt at an alarming $17 trillion, Americans deserve to see these priorities and the future direction of their government’s spending and tax policy. The President’s decision to delay his budget – yet again – calls into serious question his stated commitment to addressing America’s financial challenges.
The Wicker Report, February 3, 2014