Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years




Submission of the President’s Budget in
Transition Years

Updated January 28, 2021
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RS20752




Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years

Summary
At the time of a presidential transition, one question commonly asked is whether the outgoing or
incoming President submits the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Under past practices, and prior to more recent statutory changes, outgoing Presidents in transition
years submitted a budget to Congress just prior to leaving office, and incoming Presidents usual y
revised them. Six incoming Presidents—Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon,
Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan—revised their predecessors’ budgets shortly after
taking office. Two Presidents during this period, Lyndon Johnson and George H. W. Bush, chose
not to do so.
The deadline for submission of the President’s budget, which has been changed several times
over the years, was most recently set in 1990 as “on or after the first Monday in January but not
later than the first Monday in February of each year.” The change made it possible for an
outgoing President, whose term ends on January 20, to leave the annual budget submission to his
successor.
The five outgoing Presidents since the 1990 change—George H. W. Bush, Bil Clinton, George
W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump—exercised this option. Accordingly, the budget was
submitted in 1993, 2001, 2009, and 2017 by the four incoming Presidents (Bil Clinton for
FY1994, George W. Bush for FY2002, Barack Obama for FY2010, and Donald Trump for
FY2018). As of this writing, President Joe Biden has not yet reached the statutory deadline for
submission of the FY2022 budget.
Before President Donald Trump, the last three incoming Presidents who submitted a budget (Bil
Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) did not submit detailed budget proposals during
their transitions until April or May. However, each of them advised Congress regarding the
general contours of their economic and budgetary policies in a special message submitted to
Congress in February concurrently with a presentation made to a joint session of Congress.
President Donald Trump followed a comparable approach. He delivered an address on his
economic plan to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, and submitted an overview
document 16 days later on March 16, 2017. He submitted supplemental volumes of his budget on
May 23, 2017.
This report wil be updated as developments warrant.
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Contents
Is the Outgoing or Incoming President Required to Submit the Budget? .................................. 1
Transition Budgets in Recent Years from FY1977 to Present.................................................. 2
Statutory Deadlines.................................................................................................... 4
Initial Special Messages to Congress After Transitions .................................................... 4
Occasional Outgoing “Transition” Budgets After 1990 .................................................... 5
Potential Issues for Congress ............................................................................................ 5

Tables
Table 1. Timing of Presidential Budget Submissions in Transition Years: Incoming Carter
Through Biden Administrations ...................................................................................... 3

Contacts
Author Information ......................................................................................................... 6


Congressional Research Service

Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years

When a new session of Congress begins in January, one of its first orders of business is to receive
the annual budget submission of the President. Following receipt of the President’s budget,
Congress begins consideration of the budget resolution and other budgetary legislation for the
upcoming fiscal year, which starts on October 1.1
The transition from one presidential administration to another raises special issues regarding the
annual budget submission.2 Which President—the outgoing President or the incoming one—is
required to submit the budget, and how wil the transition affect the timing and form of the
submission? The purpose of this report is to provide background information that addresses these
questions.
Is the Outgoing or Incoming President Required to
Submit the Budget?
The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended and codified in Title 31 of the U.S. Code,
requires the President to submit a budget annual y to Congress toward the beginning of each
regular session.3 This requirement first applied to President Warren Harding for FY1923.
The deadline for submission of the budget, first set in 1921 as “on the first day of each regular
session,” has changed several times over the years:
 in 1950, to “during the first 15 days of each regular session”;4
 in 1985, to “on or before the first Monday after January 3 of each year (or on or
before February 5 in 1986)”; P.L. 101-508 P.L. 93-344 P.L. 101-5085 and
 in 1990, to “on or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first
Monday in February of each year.”6
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1933, requires each new Congress to convene
on January 3 (unless the date is changed by the enactment of a law) and provides a January 20
beginning date for a President’s four-year term of office.7 Therefore, under the legal framework
for the beginning of a new Congress, the beginning of a new President’s term, and the deadline
for the submission of the President’s budget, al outgoing Presidents prior to the 1990 change
were obligated to submit a budget.
The 1990 change in the deadline made it possible for an outgoing President to leave the annual
budget submission to his or her successor, an option that the five outgoing Presidents since then
(George H. W. Bush, Bil Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump) took.
Because President George H. W. Bush chose not to submit a budget for FY1994 (and was not
obligated to do so), President Bil Clinton submitted the original budget for FY1994 rather than

1 For more information on the federal budget process, see CRS Report 98-721, Introduction to the Federal Budget
Process
, coordinated by James V. Saturno.
2 For more information on presidential transitions, see CRS Insight IN11538, Presidential Transitions: An Overview,
by L. Elaine Halchin.
3 P.L. 67-13, Budget and Accounting Act, 1921; June 10, 1921 (42 Stat. 20, at 22); currently codified in part at 31
U.S.C §1105.
4 P.L. 81-784, Budget and Accounting Procedures Act of 1950; September 12, 1950 (64 Stat. 842 ).
5 P.L. 99-177, Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act; December 12, 1985 (99 Stat. 1038).
6, Budget Enforcement Act of 1990; November 5, 1990 (104 Stat. 1388-573).
7 See CRS, “Constitution Annotated,” https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/amendment-20/.
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budget revisions. Similarly, the budgets for FY2002, FY2010, and FY2018 were submitted by the
incoming Presidents rather than by the outgoing Presidents. For example, the budget for FY2018
was submitted by incoming President Donald Trump instead of the outgoing President Barack
Obama.
President Donald Trump submitted an overview of his budget, “America First: A Budget
Blueprint to Make America Great Again” on March 16, 2017, 16 days after delivering an address
on his economic plans to a joint session of Congress.8 He submitted his Appendix, which
contained detailed budget information on May 23, 2017, as wel as the Analytical Perspectives
and the Major Savings and Reforms supplemental volumes.9
Prior to the 1990 statutory change, incoming Presidents except for Warren Harding assumed
office with budget of their predecessors having already been submitted. After the 1990 change,
Presidents Bil Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden took
office without a prior submission by the preceding President. If an outgoing President were to
submit a budget immediately before leaving office, an incoming President may submit a revised
budget request—sometimes known as budget revisions—to Congress at any time. Before the
1990 change, six incoming Presidents chose to modify their predecessors’ budgets by submitting
revisions shortly after taking office: Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald
Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. During the same period, six incoming Presidents chose
not to submit revisions: Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman,
Lyndon Johnson, and George H. W. Bush.10
Transition Budgets in Recent Years from FY1977 to
Present
A watershed for the congressional budget process occurred in 1974 with the enactment of the
Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.11 Full implementation of the law
began with FY1977, which provides a potential starting point for looking at more recent
experience with transition year budgets.
During the period beginning with the full implementation of the congressional budget process (in
FY1977), eight transitions of presidential administration have occurred. As Table 1 shows, the
three outgoing Presidents who were required to submit a budget during this period (Gerald Ford,
Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan) did so on or before the statutory deadline. The five Presidents
who were not required to submit an outgoing budget (George H. W. Bush, Bil Clinton, George

8 Office of Management and Budget, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, FY2018, at
https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/BUDGET -2018-BLUEPRINT /.
9 Office of Management and Budget, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, FY2018,
Appendix, Analytical Perspectives and Major Savings and Reforms, at https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/budget/
2018.
10 Presidents Coolidge and Hoover each assumed office with a reduced opport unity of time to submit budget revisions.
President Coolidge assumed office on August 3, 1923, following the death of President Harding, which precluded him
from submitting budget revisions prior to the start of the fiscal year in July. President Hoover wa s the final President
elected prior to the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933. Consequently, his term did not begin until March
1929.
11, Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974; July 12, 1974 (88 Stat. 297) , 2 U.S.C. §§601-688. For
more information, see CRS Report R46468, A Brief Overview of the Congressional Budget Process, by James V.
Saturno.
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W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump) each chose to leave the budget submission to his
successor.
Once the original budget for a fiscal year has been submitted, a President or his or her successor
may submit revisions at any time. Two incoming Presidents during this period (Jimmy Carter and
Ronald Reagan) submitted budget revisions and one (George H. W. Bush) did not. The FY1978
revisions by President Jimmy Carter (a 101-page document) were submitted on February 22,
1977, and the FY1982 revisions by President Ronald Reagan (an initial 159-page document and a
subsequent 435-page document) were submitted on March 10 and April 7, 1981, respectively.
Table 1. Timing of Presidential Budget Submissions in Transition Years:
Incoming Carter Through Biden Administrations
Shaded rows dif erentiate between the pre- and post- 1990 statutory deadlines.

Outgoing Presidenta
Incoming Presidenta
Fiscal
Submitted
Date of
Submitted
Date of
Year
President
a Budget?
Deadlineb
Submission President
a Budget?
Submission
Presidential Transitions After the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and Before 1990 Changes
1978
Ford
Yes
01-19-1977 01-17-1977
Carter
Yes (budget
02-22-1977
revisions)
1982
Carter
Yes
01-20-1981 01-15-1981
Reagan
Yes (budget
03-10-1981,
revisions)
04-07-1981c
1990
Reagan
Yes
01-09-1989 01-09-1989
G. H. W.
Nod

Bush
Presidential Transitions After Statutory Changes Included in the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990
1994
G. H. W.
No
02-01-1993 —e
Clinton
Yes
04-08-1993
Bush
2002
Clinton
No
02-05-2001 —e
G. W.
Yes
04-09-2001
Bush
2010
G. W.
No
02-02-2009 —e
Obama
Yes
05-07-2009
Bush
2018
Obama
No
02-06-2017 —e
Trump
Yes
03-16-2017
2022
Trump
No
02-01-2021 —e
Biden
—f
—f
Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
Notes:
a. The incoming President replaced the outgoing President on January 20 of the applicable calendar year.
b. The budgets for FY1978 and FY1982 were required to be submitted within 15 days after Congress
convened; the budget for FY1990 was required to be submitted by the first Monday in January after
Congress convened; and the budgets for FY1994, FY2002, and FY2010 were required to be submitted by
the first Monday in February.
c. President Reagan submitted an initial budget revision on March 10, 1981, and a more detailed budget
revision on April 7, 1981.
d. Although President George H. W. Bush did not submit a revision of President Reagan’s FY1990 budget, he
submitted a 193-page message to Congress (Building a Better America) in conjunction with a joint address to
Congress on February 9, 1989. The message included revised budget proposals.
e. Beginning with FY1992, the deadline for submission of the budget was the first Monday in February.
Consequently, the outgoing President was not required to submit a budget for FY1994, FY2002, FY2010, or
FY2018.
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f.
As of this writing, President Biden has not submitted a budget for FY2022. The statutory deadline has not
yet been reached.
Statutory Deadlines
In past years, Congress authorized the submission of a budget for a fiscal year after the statutory
deadline by enacting a deadline extension in law. For example, the deadlines for submission of
the budgets for FY1981, FY1984, and FY1986 were extended from mid-January to late-January
or early-February by P.L. 96-186, P.L. 97-469, and P.L. 99-1, respectively. Beginning in the late
1980s, several original budgets were submitted late without such authorization. For FY1991, the
budget was submitted a week after a deadline that already had been extended by law (P.L. 101-
228). For FY1989, the budget was submitted 45 days after the deadline without the consideration
of any measure granting a deadline extension.
The three most recent transition-year budgets (FY2002, FY2010, and FY2018) were submitted by
incoming administrations 63, 98, and 38 days beyond the deadline, respectively, without the
consideration of a measure granting a deadline extension. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack
Obama submitted the original budgets for FY2002 and FY2010 on April 9, 2001, and May 7,
2009, respectively. President Donald Trump submitted the original budget for FY2018 on March
16, 2017. President Joe Biden has not yet reached the statutory deadline as of this writing.
Initial Special Messages to Congress After Transitions
Although Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bil Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald
Trump did not submit detailed budget proposals until April or May of their first year in office,
each of them advised Congress regarding the general contours of their economic and budgetary
policies in special messages submitted to Congress in February. Though President George H. W.
Bush did not submit an official revision of President Reagan’s FY1990 budget, he submitted a
message to Congress that contained many of the same elements as budget revisions that had been
submitted by previous incoming Presidents. In conjunction, each incoming President since
Ronald Reagan has presented his special message on the budget to a joint session of Congress.12
Transition-Year Budgets: Special Messages to Congress,
Incoming Carter Through Trump Administrations
February 22, 1977
President Carter submitted a special message to Congress containing budget revisions for
FY1978. The 101-page document included proposed changes to the budget, as wel as
updated budget summary tables. Unlike his successors, President Carter did not present
his proposals to a joint session of Congress.
February 18, 1981
President Reagan submitted a document containing an economic plan and initial budget
proposals for FY1982, America’s New Beginning: A Program for Economic Recovery, in
conjunction with an address to a joint session of Congress.
February 9, 1989
President George H. W. Bush submitted a 193-page message, Building a Better America, in
conjunction with a joint address to Congress. The message contained select modifications
of the FY1990 budget as wel as proposals to reform the budget process.
February 17, 1993
President Clinton submitted to Congress a budgetary document, A Vision of Change for
America
, to accompany his address to a joint session of Congress. The 145-page document
outlined the President’s economic plan and provided select budget proposals for FY1994.

12 While not technically State of the Union Addresses, these presentations contain many of the same elements and serve
much the same purpose as the State of the Union. As such, they are frequently counted as State of the Union Addresses
by scholars. For additional information, see CRS Report R40132, The President’s State of the Union Address:
Tradition, Function, and Policy Im plications
, by Colleen J. Shogan.
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Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years

February 28, 2001
President George W. Bush submitted a 207-page budget summary for FY2002 to Congress,
A Blueprint for New Beginnings: A Responsible Budget for America’s Priorities, the day after his
address to a joint session of Congress. The document contained the President’s 10 -year
budget plan, updated budget summary tables, and proposals for budget process reform.
February 26, 2009
President Obama submitted a 134-page overview of the FY2010 budget, A New Era of
Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise
, two days after delivering an address on his
economic and budget plan to a joint session of Congress. The document contained select
proposals for economic stimulus and updated budget summary tables.
February 28, 2017
President Trump submitted a 53-page overview of the FY2018 budget, America First: A
Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again
, 16 days after delivering an address to a joint
session of Congress. The document contained the President’s priorities and summary
tables.
Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
Occasional Outgoing “Transition” Budgets After 1990
The five most recent Presidents who were not required to submit outgoing budgets (George H. W.
Bush, Bil Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump) each chose to leave the
budget submission to their successors. Nevertheless, Presidents Bil Clinton and George H. W.
Bush sought to facilitate the development of their successors’ budgets by providing what might
be cal ed a transition budget volume to Congress.
On January 6, 1993, just prior to the inauguration of President Bil Clinton, President George H.
W. Bush submitted to Congress a 573-page, single-volume budgetary document, Budget
Baselines, Historical Data, and Alternatives for the Future
. Instead of constituting a budget in the
usual sense, this document provided historical data, baseline budget projections under the status
quo, and il ustrations of budget projections using alternative economic assumptions and different
broad policy outlines.
Similarly, on January 16, 2001, President Clinton prepared a transition budget for incoming
President George W. Bush, FY2002 Economic Outlook, Highlights from FY1994 to FY2001,
FY2002 Baseline Projections
. The volume was comparable in scope to the one issued for FY1994
by President George H. W. Bush just before he left office, providing revised budget projections
and an economic and programmatic update.
Potential Issues for Congress
In the wake of statutory changes in 1990, presidential budget submissions in transition years have
more closely corresponded to the arrival of new Presidents. Several potential questions regarding
the submission of the President’s budget during a transition year may be of interest to the 117th
Congress. For the purposes of this report, potential issues can be grouped into two topics:
1. President’s budget submission deadlines, and
2. the role of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in presidential
transitions.
Since the statutory deadline for the submission of the President’s budget was changed in 1990 to
“on or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first Monday in February of each
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Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years

year,”13 al of the subsequent incoming President’s budgets have been submitted to Congress late,
long after the statutory deadline. Possible questions for Congress related to this issue include:
 Should the deadline for the President’s budget submission be changed?
 Do late submissions of the President’s budget have implications for the
congressional budget process?
In addition, there may be questions related to OMB’s role in the submission of the President’s
budget during a transition year. For example, recently, some observers have noted tensions
between OMB and presidential transition teams.14 According to media reports, the Biden
Administration’s transition team “‘encountered obstruction’ and ‘roadblocks’ from political
leadership” at OMB,15 reportedly experienced less cooperation than OMB had provided during
past transitions,16 and expressed concerns that the al eged lack of cooperation from OMB “could
delay the fiscal 2022 budget process.”17 On December 31, 2020, OMB published a letter authored
by OMB director Russel Vought that addressed such concerns.18 Consequently, some relevant
questions may include:
 Should the process for submitting the President’s budget differ in transition
years?
 What is the role of OMB in presidential transitions?
 What lessons could be learned from the potential underlying points of dispute in
2020 and 2021 between OMB and the incoming Biden Administration?
 Do presidential transitions as they relate to budget submissions need to be
examined or streamlined?

Author Information

Taylor N. Riccard

Analyst in Government Organization and
Management


13, Budget Enforcement Act of 1990; November 5, 1990 (104 Stat. 1388-573).
14 See Eric White, “OMB T akes Offense to Biden T ransition T eam’s Comments on Its Level of Cooperation,” Federal
News Network
, January 4, 2021, https://federalnewsnetwork.com/federal-newscast/2021/01/omb-takes-offense-to-
biden-transition-teams-comments-on-its-level-of-cooperation/.
15 See Shawna Chen, “ Biden: T ransition T eam Has ‘Encountered Obstruction’ from Pentagon,” Axios, December 29,
2020, https://www.axios.com/biden-trump-transition-defense-obstruction-roadblocks-be691345-19fb-4453-a463-
3a8c66473b20.html.
16 See Niels Lesniewski, “Biden T eam Says OMB Undermining Budget Process, COVID Spending,” CQ News,
December 30, 2020, https://plus.cq.com/doc/news-6086935?1&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=btmorning.
17 Lesniewski, “Biden T eam Says OMB Undermining Budget Process, COVID Spending.”
18 See OMB, President’s Budget, “A Letter to the Biden T ransition Team,” December 31, 2020,
https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/.
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Submission of the President’s Budget in Transition Years


Acknowledgments
This report was original y written by Robert Keith, formerly a Specialist in American National
Government at CRS, and updated by Michel e D. Christensen, Analyst in Government
Organization and Management. The current author has updated this report and is available to
answer questions from congressional clients concerning the report’s subject matter.


Disclaimer
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RS20752 · VERSION 10 · UPDATED
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