The word on Capitol Hill and in the Administration over the coming weeks will be: budgets.
As noted last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already been working with the Senate parliamentarian to allow Democrats to revise the fiscal year 2021 budget as a vehicle for the infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden rolled out last week, while at the same time, the White House is scheduled to release its own budget request.
As always, the White House budget will include proposed funding levels for each federal agency, as Democrats aim to increase funding for non-defense programs. The request is the first step in the arduous congressional budget process, and President Joe Biden will need to win Republican support for government funding to pass.
The Biden administration was expected to unveil the budget at the end of March, but the administration pushed back its release last week and said the budget would come out “soon.” Budget delays are not uncommon, and past presidential administrations have missed their own deadlines for budget requests, too.
One complication, however, is that President Biden has not yet named a permanent pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) after Neera Tanden’s nomination was withdrawn. Shalanda Young was not confirmed as Deputy OMB Director until March 24, when she was also named as Acting Director.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Schumer asked the Senate parliamentarian last week to rule on whether the 2021 budget resolution used to pass Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill could be re-used for further legislation. If the parliamentarian rules in Democrats’ favor, they could continue to stretch reconciliation further, with potentially a third reconciliation bill this calendar year.
The bottom line is that while presidential budgets are typically dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, it does portend the fights over the federal budget; upcoming reconciliation bills will likely be very contentious on Capitol Hill.