President Trump will unveil his fiscal 2019 budget request on Feb. 12, one week after the White House is technically required to send the blueprint to Congress and just days after current appropriations are set to expire.
The cause for the delay, according to the Office of Management and Budget, was the recent three-day government shutdown. While presidents are scheduled to release their budgets on the first Monday of every February, they often wait longer.
“Preparing for and then implementing the recent lapse in appropriations meant that both OMB and agency staff lost several work days during an especially critical part of the budget production process,” said Meghan Burris, an OMB spokeswoman.
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A current stopgap spending bill is set to expire Feb. 8. Congress has yet to set top-level budget caps for fiscal 2018 or provide agencies with their line-by-line appropriations. Instead, federal offices across the country are operating on autopilot based on their fiscal 2017 funding level. Trump issued his 2018 budget last May, as is typical for the first year of a new presidential administration, but his cut-heavy proposals were largely rejected by Congress and even by many of his own agency leaders.
While the proposals put forth in a president’s budget are often altered or ignored entirely, the fiscal 2019 blueprint will be of particular interest to federal agencies and their workforces. The new document is set to incorporate agencies’ reorganization proposals, which will include their plans to slash employees. Agencies first turned over preliminary plans in June and, after receiving feedback from OMB, submitted final drafts in September. The reorganization proposals and workforce reduction plans were required by a Trump executive order and subsequent OMB guidance last year.
The White House has taken heat from lawmakers and government watchdog groups for its lack of transparency on the plans, though the administration has said from the beginning it would submit a “governmentwide reform plan” in its fiscal 2019 budget made up of agency plans, OMB-coordinated crosscutting proposals and public input. The individual agency proposals will each include a “long-term workforce reduction plan.” Several agencies have offered separation incentives or implemented long-term hiring freezes to begin cutting their rolls immediately.