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Even Without a Budget on Budget Day, Parties Gear Up for Battle Over Spending

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republicans harped on the White House for not releasing a budget proposal Monday, with Boehner saying, “The economy could use presidential leadership right now.”

Budget day came without a fiscal 2014 budget proposal on Monday, but congressional Republicans didn’t let the occasion go by without a sharp attack against the White House on its priorities and its inability to complete a federal spending plan by the required deadline.

“This was supposed to be the day that the president submitted his budget to the Congress. But it’s not coming. It’s gonna be late. And some reports say that it could be as long as a month late. I think that’s too bad. The economy could use presidential leadership right now,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a floor speech Monday.

The White House had already notified Congress a couple of weeks ago that the budget would be delayed because of the uncertainty over the fiscal-cliff issues, which were resolved only a month ago. But GOP lawmakers are looking for the plan as a new opportunity to focus on the deficit and spending on programs favored by Democrats and to contrast that with the discipline they intend to display in their own budget resolution.

Without an Obama administration budget to target, House Republicans instead trumpeted legislation introduced by Georgia Rep. Tom Price last week requiring the president to offer either a budget that balances in 10 years or a supplementary plan stating when the president’s budget would eliminate the deficit.

House leadership expects a vote Tuesday on that bill, which Democrats have derided as a purely political exercise.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to GOP criticism of the delay by chiding House Republicans for passing “highly partisan” budgets that have “no support among the American people.” He said it was more important to focus on “substance over deadlines,” noting President Barack Obama “has put forward consistently budgets that achieve what the American people overwhelmingly support.”

Carney said Obama already has offered a proposal, apparently referring to the fiscal-cliff negotiations late last year, which “the speaker of the House is welcome to take up today or tomorrow as he might wish which represents balanced deficit reduction.”

But on Capitol Hill, the sharp words without budget numbers on the table signaled that both sides are gearing up for a major battle between vastly different approaches to government that will be evident in the spending plans.

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., has already said he plans a budget with more ambitious deficit reduction targets than he set last year in a plan that Obama and other Democrats derided during the campaign season that led to Obama’s re-election last fall.

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