White House budget not expected until April, Yarmuth says

Second pricey budget reconciliation package awaits Biden request

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth said President Joe Biden is not expected to submit his first budget until April.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth said President Joe Biden is not expected to submit his first budget until April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 26, 2021 at 8:13pm

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth said Friday that President Joe Biden is not expected to submit his fiscal 2022 budget request to Congress until "mid-to-late April."

The president is required by statute to submit a budget request to Congress by the first Monday in February, but there is no penalty for missing the deadline. A delay is common when a new president takes office, but Biden's first budget could come later than any of his recent predecessors.

The delay in Biden's budget request will prevent Democrats from getting formally started on their next budget reconciliation bill. They hope to pass the reconciliation bill they're using for $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief before unemployment benefits expire March 14.

[Biden budget release faces extended delay]

It could be more than a month after that before the House Budget Committee gets started on the fiscal 2022 budget resolution that will be needed to provide reconciliation instructions for a second economic package.

"So much is delayed because of OMB and the president's budget," Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, said. "It wouldn't start before we get the president's budget. Now we're told it's gonna be mid-to-late April."

White House budget aides declined to confirm the April timeline, referring instead to prior comments from administration officials including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki that the budget would be delayed past February.

Yarmuth said the second reconciliation bill, like the first, will likely provide instructions to numerous House committees.

"Let's put it this way: I think there are going to be a lot of committees that would like to get things in that," he said. "It’s a very popular piece of legislation — and expensive too."

Infrastructure and renewable energy-related spending are most often mentioned for inclusion in a subsequent round of budget reconciliation. Immigration bills have often been discussed, as have tax increases Biden has proposed on the wealthy and corporations to offset at least some of the cost.

'Skinny' budgets

Sometimes presidents release initial "skinny" versions of their budgets in their first year to avoid too much of a delay.

But even in using the skinny budget tactic, President Donald Trump had set a modern record in not publicly releasing details of his first budget until March 16, more than a month past the statutory deadline. He had, however, sent departments and agencies their topline numbers on Feb. 27, 2017 in a process known as a "passback."

President Barack Obama released early details of his first budget on Feb. 26, 2009; his predecessor, George W. Bush, did so on Feb. 28, 2001. Bill Clinton gave an overview in a speech to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 17, 1993.

The Biden administration has warned for months that the budget request would be delayed because Trump's Office of Management and Budget declined to work with their transition team and remaining career officials have continued to provide obstacles to getting information.

More recently complicating matters is the uncertainty over when OMB will have a confirmed director, with Biden nominee Neera Tanden currently lacking the support needed for Senate confirmation. Tanden needs the support of at least one Republican after Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., announced he will vote against her confirmation.

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, seemingly Tanden's last hope for a Republican vote, said this week she needs to do more vetting before making a decision.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.