Obama to delay 2012 budget by about a week: official

HONOLULU Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:01am EST

President Barack Obama listens to a question during his news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

President Barack Obama listens to a question during his news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington December 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

HONOLULU (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, who has pledged to tackle long-term U.S. debt and deficit challenges, will delay the delivery of his fiscal year 2012 budget by about a week until after February 14.

An administration official said on Monday the delay was due to the long time it took for the U.S. Senate to confirm Jack Lew as Obama's new budget director, and because funding decisions for 2011 went so late into the year.

The Democratic president nominated Lew in July but the appointment was held up in the Senate by Mary Landrieu, a member of Obama's own party, to protest the administration's ban on offshore oil drilling imposed after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That ban was lifted in October and Lew was confirmed on November 18.

Republicans and Democrats fought over legislation to keep funding the government until the final days of the last congressional session, and a massive so-called omnibus funding bill was abandoned shortly before Christmas in favor of a compromise bill to keep the government running until early March.

Republicans, who take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January and increase their votes in the Senate, plan to push for spending cuts.

Obama, who received bold recommendations earlier this month from a bipartisan panel on how to cut the U.S. deficit and rising debts, has said there will be a tough debate on spending priorities and how to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

The U.S. budget deficit for fiscal 2010, which ended on September 30, was $1.29 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury, down from a record $1.42 trillion in fiscal 2009. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in August projected a $1.07 trillion deficit for fiscal 2011.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Mohammad Zargham)