Senate Obstruction Delays Obama Budget

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

I read a couple of books recently dedicated to fretting about executive power and my reaction to them is to sympathize but also to wonder what the alternative is. A legislative branch that wants to seriously check the executive in an effective way over time needs to be respected by the population and to be worthy of respect. Instead, Karen Tumulty reports:

President Obama now expects to release his fiscal 2012 budget in mid-February, about a week later than the timetable set out under the Budget Act of 1974, administration officials said Tuesday.

The White House needs additional time in part because of a six-week delay in the Senate confirmation of new budget director Jacob Lew.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) had put a hold on Lew’s nomination to protest the administration’s moratorium on offshore oil drilling. When the administration lifted the moratorium in October, Landrieu continued the hold, saying she objected to the way drilling permits were being issued. Lew finally was confirmed in November.

Whether the budget comes out a week late or not is not a big deal, but the Budget Act should be followed. But if congress persists in using its powers primarily to impede the basic functioning of government in pursuit of very parochial interests, then you end up with more executive unilateralism.