- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

The chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees canceled the invitation they issue to the White House budget chief every year to come and explain the new blueprint, saying President Obama’s latest plan is going nowhere and there is no need to bother hearing from him.

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, and Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, issued a joint statement saying they won’t hold hearings on the president’s budget but instead will get to work on their own plans, which will drive the agenda far more than Mr. Obama’s document.

“It is clear that this president will not put forth the budget effort that our times and our country require,” Mr. Enzi said. “Instead of hearing from an administration unconcerned with our $19 trillion in debt, we should focus on how to reform America’s broken budget process and restore the trust of hardworking taxpayers.”

The disinvite is a stunning slap at Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan and at Mr. Obama, who has vowed to raise taxes and boost spending in his 2017 budget.

But the president’s budgets have been largely irrelevant on Capitol Hill since 2011, when Republicans took control of the House and put the brakes on his spending plans.

Indeed, when Congress is asked to vote specifically on a version of the president’s budget, it attracts hardly any support — including a 99-0 vote in the Senate in 2012.

This year’s blueprint is even less important, given that Mr. Obama and Congress agreed in last year’s debt deal to an overall spending number for 2017, so there is no need to haggle over the top-line number. Now it’s up to Congress to divvy up that spending among discretionary accounts.

Shannon Buckingham, associate director for communications and strategic planning at the Office of Management and Budget, said the agency was “disappointed” by the chairmen’s move, which she said dispensed with a longstanding tradition.

“We continue to look forward to the release on Tuesday of the President’s FY17 Budget which invests in our domestic and national security priorities and addresses our greatest challenges, not just this year but for decades to come,” she said in a statement.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said disinviting Mr. Donovan was a slap at bipartisanship.

“It is a sad day for this institution when Congress snubs the President and the interests of working families with such an egregious abdication of our duty to the American people,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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