WASHINGTON—All 11 Republicans on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee sent a letter to President Obama asking that, in light of his Wednesday speech on deficit reduction, he submit a new, revised budget to Congress as part of the statutorily mandated Mid-Session Review.
Upon the letter’s release, Ranking Member Sessions made the following comment:
“The president’s speech on Wednesday is an apparent acknowledgement that the budget he submitted to Congress fails to address the dangerously rising debt that threatens our country. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the president’s budget grows the deficit by an additional $2.7 trillion beyond CBO projections if we simply continued on our current unsustainable course. For the president to properly fulfill his duties to Congress and to the country he must submit a new, revised budget reflecting any changes he wishes to make to his existing proposal. In keeping with the Budget Act, our Committee must be able to review these changes and the Congressional Budget Office must be able to analyze them.”
Text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
As members of the Senate Budget Committee, we welcome your engagement in the budget debate. We listened to your April 13th address and noted that its content represents an apparent shift from your FY 2012 budget. You said—and we agree—that “we have the obligation to prove we can afford our commitments.” Accordingly, we write to formally request that you submit a revised FY 2012 budget in a form that can be reviewed and analyzed by Members of Congress and estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Administration’s Mid-Session Review, an annual report required by The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 [31 USC 1106], affords you a timely opportunity to present a revised FY 2012 budget to Congress. President Clinton set an example in 1995 when, during a contentious debate over budget deficits, he used his Mid-Session Review to submit a revised budget to Congress.
The statute mandates that the Mid-Session Review be transmitted to Congress no later than July 15th, but given the importance of deficit reduction plans to the current debt limit debate, and warnings from Treasury Secretary Geithner that the federal government could reach the statutory debt ceiling in mid-May with only limited time to defer, we request that you transmit your Mid-Session Review to Congress no later than May 15, 2011. This would allow the Congressional Budget Office time to analyze your revised budget in time for Congress’ June work period.
There is precedent for early submissions of the Mid-Session Review. For three years in a row from 1999 to 2001, President Clinton submitted his Mid-Session Review well in advance of the July 15th deadline (May 26, 1999, June 28, 2000 and June 26, 2001, respectively).
We believe a new budget submission is especially urgent in light of the warning from the co-chairmen of your own executive order fiscal commission who said that, absent swift and serious action the United States will experience “the most predictable economic crisis in its history.” Merely talking about the need to reduce the deficit and address entitlements, and asserting vague reforms and tax increases, are poor substitutes for the necessary detail and substance required for an informed debate.
The Budget and Accounting Act is clear—the President is not exempt from the requirement to submit a formal budget request and, in light of your April 13th speech, the budget we have in hand today does not comport with your public statements about Administration policy. Therefore, we respectfully request that you submit a revised FY 2012 budget to Congress by May 15, 2011 so that the budget process may continue with the highest degree of transparency, accuracy and integrity.
Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member