WASHINGTON (AFP) - Republicans are pressuring United States (US) President Barack Obama to unveil a federal budget, saying failure to introduce a blueprint by Monday as required shows the White House is not serious about curbing spending.
House Republicans plan to take up a measure this week that would force the president to identify the date that his fiscal year budget would balance when he submits it to Congress later this year. If the budget does not do so, Mr Obama would have to submit a new one that does.
"This week, the House will act on a measure requiring the president to submit a balanced budget, and we hope he uses this opportunity to offer the American people his plan to do that," House Speaker John Boehner said.
Republicans in the House will soon pass a budget, but "for the fourth time in five years this White House has proven it does not take trillion-dollar deficits seriously enough to submit a budget on time," Mr Boehner added.
The President is required by Congress to submit his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year by the first Monday of February.
Mr Paul Ryan, chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee and last year's Republican vice presidential nominee, said he was disappointed but "not surprised" that the president missed his deadline, and that Mr Obama and Senate Democrats repeatedly "shirk their duty" on the budget.
"We've still got time, but it's dwindling. Every missed deadline is a missed opportunity," Mr Ryan said in a statement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the criticism, urging a focus on "substance over deadlines" and denouncing House Republicans for passing "highly partisan" budgets that have "no support among the American people." Mr Carney did not say whether Mr Obama would release a budget before his State of the Union address on February 12.
The budget spat comes on the heels of December's bitterly fought battle over how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that threatened to drag the economy back toward recession unless Congress acted.
Lawmakers ultimately raised taxes on the very rich, and postponed until March 1 the start of nearly US$1 trillion (S$1.2 trillion) in automatic cuts to defence and domestic spending over the next decade, a process known as sequester.
Democrats have been mulling options for averting the mandated cuts, including a proposal that would raise further revenues while imposing new spending cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Sunday that "there's still more that we can do" in terms of closing tax loopholes and raising more revenues in order to avert the sequester.
But Republicans want new taxes taken off the table after Congress agreed to tax hikes for income above US$450,000.
Bitterly divided lawmakers have failed to agree on a path forward, with the across-the-board cuts threatening to dent a fragile US economy that saw unemployment rise 0.1 percentage points to 7.9 per cent in January.