Panels are planning to consider budget resolution next week
The House Budget Committee is scheduled next week to consider the budget resolution the panel is drafting, with action on the floor likely the following week, said Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., vice chairwoman of the committee.
"We are moving ahead" with an "ambitious schedule," to complete work on the measure, Schwartz said Monday.
She said the committee is working quickly to produce the resolution to set the stage for legislation to reform the healthcare system and cap greenhouse gas emissions, two Democratic pillars included in President Obama's fiscal 2010 budget outline.
The budget resolution will be drafted ahead of Obama's full budget, which is expected to be sent to Congress in April.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is looking to move a Senate budget resolution on the same schedule.
But he said Monday his panel might be delayed by the Congressional Budget Office's release of economic projections this week.
"Our goal has always been [to finish] this work period," Conrad said. "We are dependent on the CBO re-estimate. ... I had heard that it could come this week, but my experience over the 20 years is that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't."
Conrad said that given the turbulence in the economy, he can understand the difficulty in completing the projects.
"I have never seen the out-year estimates so fluid," he said.
Conrad said that the panel has begun drafting the resolution without CBO projections, like the House panel has, to save time. He added he intends to plug in the CBO figures once he gets them.
The CBO projections for the fiscal 2009 budget deficit could be bigger than the $1.7 trillion, or 12.3 percent of gross domestic product, included in Obama's budget outline. CBO in January had put the figure at $1.2 trillion, or 8.3 percent of GDP, a figure that did not include the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed into law last month.
Passing a budget resolution could be difficult, especially in the Senate where getting agreement among conservative Democrats on where to trim spending might prove difficult.
"It's going to be tough," said Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. "I would like to see us redouble our efforts in terms of where spending cuts would make sense. I think that is probably what [Obama] expected us to do."
In recent weeks, Republicans have been lambasting the Obama budget, claiming it spends and taxes too much and will hurt the economy.
"The budget is not a good budget," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on the floor Monday. "The budget proposed by the president presents unsustainable spending, tax increases and debt. It is a chilling proposal for America that can't be sustained."