Title III of the Congressional Budget Act requires that the President submit his proposed budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February. The President’s budget is actually only a request made to Congress, and Congress is under no obligation to adopt the budget or consider the recommendations of the President.
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Preparation of the President’s Budget typically begins at least one year prior to the budget actually being submitted to Congress in February. The early phase of budget preparation occurs within the federal agencies. These agencies maintain ongoing contact with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) while they formulate their budgets.
Known officially as the Budget of the United States Government, the President’s budget contains a message from the president regarding the budget, major budgetary initiatives organized by department and agency, and performance data. The budget also contains an appendix that features detailed information on specific aspects of the budget, such as current services estimates, economic assumptions, crosscutting programs and aid to state and local governments. In addition, the budget will contain historical tables that provide data on budget authority, deficits and surpluses and federal debt.
The president will also submit an annual Economic Report of the President to Congress within a few days of transmitting his budget. This report contains a report of the Council of Economic Advisers. Furthermore, the president is required by law to update his submissions. This is typically done in a much briefer Mid-Session Review; available by July 15th. The president may also choose to revise recommendations at any point during the year, beyond the Mid-Session Review. Several locations provide online access to the President’s budget documents, including the Office of Management and Budget and the GPO.
A significant portion of the budget is actually an estimate regarding the requirements that exist under law, not a request for congressional action.
To learn more about the presidential budget process, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day workshop, The President’s Budget, held each year in mid-February.
Source: Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Sec. 9.40 Presidential Budget Process, and Sec 9.42 Formulation and Content of the President’s Budget.
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