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House Republicans want to spend this short congressional week hammering President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats over the budget, hoping to ride the momentum of their “no budget, no pay” ploy.
The House will take up a measure that would force the president to identify the date his budget would balance when he submits the spending blueprint to Congress later this year. If it does not do so, he would have to submit a new budget that does.
By law, the president must submit his budget by Monday, but acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients sent a letter to Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., last month informing him that the budget will be delayed because of late passage of a fiscal-cliff deal. Republicans are eager to hammer Obama on that point.
Obama met the deadline only once in his first term, and Cantor said in a statement that the latest tardy budget is “another signal he is not serious about solving our nation’s spending problem.”
Cantor continued: “That is unacceptable. Even the budget he eventually submitted last year never achieved balance.”
The House approved a bill last month mandating that if either chamber does not pass a budget by a certain date, members of that chamber would have their pay withheld.
Getting the Senate to agree to that measure was a start, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said in a Feb. 1 statement.
“With this measure, we are giving the president a chance to kick his habit of submitting budgets that spend, tax, and borrow too much,” the speaker said. “Given that the president’s budget will be late, it may as well be right.”
A spokesman for the president did not return a request for comment. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are unlikely to take up the Price bill.
For their part, House Democrats do not seem to be taking the measure very seriously.
“This is just another gotcha gimmick,” Rules ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “Last week they tried to blame the Senate; this week, it’s all the President’s fault. We need to put an end to the blame-shifting and legislative gimmicks if we want to put our fiscal house in order and put people back to work.”