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White House Sets Feb. 9 Budget Rollout Date

The White House will release its fiscal 2017 budget request on Feb. 9, narrowly missing the statutory deadline for sending the proposal to Congress.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan announced the rollout date on Thursday evening via Twitter. 

“Now that Congress has completed FY16 approps, we’re finalizing @POTUS’s FY17 Budget,” Donovan tweeted, providing a link to the site where the proposal will eventually be posted.

Under current budget law, the White House is supposed to submit its request to Congress by the first Monday in February, which this year falls on Feb. 1 — the same day as the Iowa caucuses.

New Hampshire primary voters will hit the polls Feb. 9.

The Obama administration’s tardiness in submitting its budget request has been a frequent point of attack for Republicans in recent years. The rollout of the White House’s fiscal 2016 request met the deadline last year — for the first time since 2010.

For its part, Congress has been consistently late in advancing appropriations bills just about every year for the last two decades. Indeed, lawmakers did not clear the fiscal 2016 omnibus (PL 114-113) for the president’s signature until Dec. 18 — 79 days after the start of the fiscal year.

The fiscal 2017 budget request will be the last of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

It is expected to adhere to the discretionary spending limits codified as part of the bipartisan budget deal (PL 114-74) Democrats fought hard for and ultimately secured from departing Speaker John A. Boehner last fall. 

Under that blueprint, caps on defense and nondefense programs largely remain frozen between current fiscal 2016 levels and fiscal 2017. Base defense spending creeps up roughly $3 billion, to $551.07 billion, while nondefense programs remain effectively flat at $518.53 billion. Overseas Contingency Operations funding is slated to continue at the current level of $73.69 billion. 

The administration, however, could get creative in Obama’s last year of asking Congress to pull out its checkbook. 

Even with a similar budget accord in hand two years ago, the White House proposed a $56 billion sidecar alongside its regular budget request to Congress in spring 2014. Obama’s “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” however, was dismissed immediately by the appropriations committees, which moved ahead with spending plans that adhered to the discretionary limits. 

Regardless of what shape it takes, the budget request will largely be met on Capitol Hill with a shrug in this contentious presidential election year. Leaders in both chambers have vowed to prioritize appropriations work, but the bitter primary season and sparse legislative calendar will make it hard to achieve much before voters hit the polls in November.

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