President Clinton may delay submitting his fiscal 1998 budget proposal to Congress until after his State of the Union address, which is scheduled for the first week of February. Because law requires the president to present his budget to Capitol Hill by the first Monday of February, the White House will have to clear the delay with key legislators.
The president would push back his budget submission from Feb. 3 to Feb. 10 because the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony will prevent him from giving the State of the Union during the last weeks of January, when the address is traditionally given. This year Clinton will give the speech the first week of February. He will ask Congress to ignore the statutory deadline for the budget proposal so that he can first lay out broad goals for his second term in office in the State of the Union and then present the details of those goals in the budget a week later.
"Since the budget is a document that amplifies things that the President would intend to talk about at the State of the Union, it made some sense to the White House to see if Congress would entertain the notion of having a formal submission of the budget after the State of the Union Address," White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told reporters yesterday.
McCurry said that initial discussions with members of Congress suggested they would agree to the delay.
"We do expect, at least based on the tentative conversations we've had with the Hill, that we would send the budget after the State of the Union, but so far there haven't been any final dates locked in," he said.
Last year's budget was presented to Congress over a month late because of the government shutdowns. Clinton met the statutory deadline for his fiscal 1997 budget by presenting Congress with a 20-page outline of his proposal on the first Monday of February.