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OMB nominee says new Biden budget coming in March

Longtime House appropriations aide Shalanda D. Young has served as acting White House budget director for nearly a year

Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks with Shalanda D. Young, nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, before her confirmation hearing in the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.
Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks with Shalanda D. Young, nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, before her confirmation hearing in the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Joe Biden is likely to submit his fiscal 2023 budget request shortly after the March 1 State of the Union address, his acting White House budget chief told senators Tuesday.

At one of two confirmation hearings to be the permanent director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda D. Young suggested a March timeline for a budget submission that would mark the start of the appropriations process for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

“It is typical that the State of the Union would lead into a budget,” Young told the Senate Budget Committee. “So that is certainly our expectation, that you would see that normal course of interaction between the State of the Union and the budget.”

Plans for a new budget come as Congress is struggling to reach a deal on overdue appropriations for the current fiscal year, which began last October. The government is operating under a stopgap funding measure that is scheduled to expire on Feb. 18.

But if Congress can’t pass an omnibus spending package this month, it’s possible that White House plans for a new budget submission could slip. Under budget law, the president is required to submit a budget request on the first Monday of February, but there is no penalty for blowing that deadline and it’s not unusual for White House budgets to be delayed.

The disclosure of a preliminary timeline surfaced in the second of two hearings held Tuesday to confirm Young, a longtime House Appropriations Committee aide who would become the first Black woman to head the White House budget office.

The twin Senate hearings, from the Budget and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, also featured testimony from Nani A. Coloretti, a former Obama administration official who is nominated to become Young’s deputy at OMB.

[Biden makes it official: Young gets OMB director nod]

At the time of their nomination announcements in November, the White House issued a statement saying the confirmation of Young and Coloretti — who is Filipina American — would  allow the budget office to be “led by two history-making women of color who are experienced and highly qualified.” And there was no indication Tuesday that either confirmation was in any serious jeopardy.

“I think you’re both well-qualified,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Budget panel’s ranking Republican, at the start of that committee’s hearing. “You might talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it.”

Upon hearing Graham’s qualified support for Young, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., appeared eager to put the nominee at ease, saying: “There’s nothing she could do today to get me to vote against her.”

But some Republicans have expressed concern over Young’s previous words of apparent support for lifting the so-called Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion except in limited cases.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked Young to clarify her position on Hyde. Portman said her written response to a question at her confirmation hearing last year for OMB deputy director “caused me and a lot of my Republican colleagues — all of them, in fact — great concern.”

Young told Portman she would “follow the law and certainly commit to not trying to weaken the Hyde amendment if Congress chooses not to remove it from appropriations bills.”

Democrats are seeking to remove the measure from spending bills this year but Republicans are pushing back. The fate of the Hyde amendment is one of the major sticking points to an omnibus spending deal.

More aid for Ukraine?

Graham also expressed support for an emergency supplemental funding bill that could respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the military defense needs of Ukraine, which is facing more than 100,000 Russian troops on its eastern border.  

“I think an emergency supplemental would be well-utilized and also to help the Ukraine,” he said.

Young replied that the administration supports Ukraine aid, while making no commitment on any supplemental funding request. “We clearly will be in contact if we think the resources are needed,” she said.

Other Republicans have resisted additional pandemic relief, saying much of last year’s $1.9 trillion package has yet to be spent and has already helped spur inflation. “There is no reason Congress should be providing still billions more,” said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., at the Budget Committee hearing.

Young said most of the unobligated money from last year’s package is state and local funding. And she declined to rule out additional relief, telling the Budget panel: “We have to be careful about pulling money back before we know what the future twists and turns of this virus might bring.”

Young also suggested she did not anticipate the need for another stopgap funding measure to avoid a partial government shutdown. “Maybe I’ll have egg on my face, but I’m optimistic that appropriators and the rest of Congress can reach a deal,” she told the Budget Committee.

[Young confirmed as OMB deputy director]

A former Democratic staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, Young has served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget since the Senate confirmed her as deputy director in March on a 63-37 vote with bipartisan support.

Biden originally nominated Neera Tanden, former head of the Center for American Progress think tank, to be OMB director. But she withdrew her nomination in early March after several moderate Democrats voiced concerns amid unified Republican opposition. Later, Biden named Tanden a senior adviser and, ultimately, White House staff secretary.

[Neera Tanden out, ending lengthy stalemate over divisive OMB nominee]

Coloretti served throughout much of the Obama administration in different roles, including three years as a deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a position for which she was confirmed in a 68-28 vote. Coloretti also spent five years at the Treasury Department, with her portfolio including establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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