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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The President’s Budget Request: Overview and Timing of the Mid-Session Review

Michelle D. Christensen
Analyst in Government Organization and Management

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 established for the first time the requirement that the President annually submit a budget proposal to Congress. Under current law (31 U.S.C. § 1105(a)), the President is required to submit this budget proposal to Congress on or after the first Monday in January, but no later than the first Monday in February.

For nearly half a century after the 1921 act took effect, Presidents submitted their annual budgets to Congress toward the beginning of the session but were not required to update their budget submissions later in the session. As the federal budget became larger, more complex, and more dynamic, Congress felt a greater need for more extensive and updated budgetary information from the President.

Section 221(b) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 requires the President to submit to Congress an update of the budget proposal in the middle of the legislative session. The requirement, which was first effective in 1972, is codified at 31 U.S.C. § 1106. The update commonly is referred to as the mid-session review (or MSR), but sometimes is referred to as the supplemental summary of the budget. The most recent MSR for FY2014 is available at

Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 1106, the mid-session review must include, in part, (1) any substantial changes to estimated receipts or expenditures, (2) changes resulting from enacted or pending appropriations, and (3) estimated end-of-year Treasury figures. Presidents also have some discretion regarding additional content and overall structure of the mid-session review. For example, in addition to the required elements, some Presidents have included updates to their original budget request or discussion of the potential effects that pending legislative proposals may have on their budgetary estimates.

Since the first year the mid-session review was required (FY1973), each President has submitted at least one mid-session review on time and at least one late. Controversy has occasionally surfaced regarding the timing of its submission to Congress. On more than one occasion, Members of Congress have suggested that the President has timed submission of the mid-session review in order to gain a political or legislative advantage over Congress. 

Delayed Submission of the Mid-Session Review.
During the 42 years that the President has been required to submit a mid-session review, it has been submitted, on average, 8.26 calendar days late. In 23 of the 42 years, the mid-session review was submitted after the deadline, with delays ranging from one to 52 days. When the mid-session review was submitted late, it was delayed, on average, 21 calendar days. 

Timely and Accelerated Submission of the Mid-Session Review.
In 19 of the 42 years, the midsession review was submitted on time. Six of the 19 timely submissions were made on the deadline. In nine instances, the mid-session review was submitted fewer than 10 days before the deadline. In the remaining instances, the mid-session review was submitted at least two weeks before the deadline. For FY1978, FY2000 and FY2001, the mid-session review was submitted in late June—16, 17, and 19 calendar days ahead of the deadline, respectively. For FY1999, it was submitted on May 26, 1998—50 calendar days ahead of the deadline.

This report, which provides an overview of the mid-session review and analysis

Date of Report: July 16, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL32509
Price: $29.95

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