Lower requests likely in President's FY2013 budget

Friday - 2/10/2012, 2:40pm EST

If the requested budgets of several agencies are any indication, federal agencies are expecting less funds in anticipation of the President's fiscal 2013 budget request, to be released Monday.

President Obama's request will factor in a projected deficit of $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2012, as well as discretionary spending cuts set by August's Budget Control Act. The failed deficit reduction committee negotiations in November triggered across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion in both defense and non-defense programs, starting in 2013.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has said he is hopeful Congress and the President can at least reach an agreement on budget savings to avoid the across-the-board cuts.

DoD is already facing planned cuts of $487 billion over 10 years, in addition to half a trillion in automatic cuts to the Defense Department budget. Two weeks ago, DoD requested a fiscal 2013 base budget of $525 billion, plus $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan. Overall, the request is $33 billion below fiscal 2012 levels.

To avoid the sequestration cuts, Senate Republicans led by Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl proposed cutting the federal workforce by 5 percent and extending the federal pay freeze through mid-2014. Civilian federal employees currently are in the second year of a two-year pay freeze.

So far, four legislative branch agencies have submitted budget requests that, in some cases, ask for just enough to maintain operations. This week the Library of Congress, Government Printing Office, Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office testified Tuesday before the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch of the House Appropriations Committee.

In the coming weeks, the committee will be holding hearings on the budget, including with DoD and the Homeland Security Department next week. (See full list of upcoming budget hearings).

Although agencies await the President's request to move ahead with their own fiscal planning, Monday's request is just that — a blueprint with no obligation for Congress to pass it. Republicans will release their version of the budget following the President's release. After at least five short-term spending measures and two-near shutdowns last year, agencies may have to expect more of the same until after the November elections.

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