Platforms and media risers are under construction at the Capitol and along Pennsylvania Avenue as D.C. prepares for the Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 21. But a couple of other winter political rituals are on hold in Washington this year: the release of the president's budget and the scheduling of the State of the Union. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about why they are stalled.
On the reason that the White House will probably miss the Feb. 4 deadline for presenting its budget proposal: "The budget writers at CQ Roll Call say they've been told by their sources that there's no way they will meet that deadline," Hawkings says. "What it means for people in our area is that they won't have any certainty about what the president is asking for … but they can't get it done because of the fiscal cliff. The President and his budgeteers were working right until Jan. 1 to settle even part of the budget for this year, so it's sort of not fair to even expect that they'll get it done before February, and now we think it'll probably be the middle of March."
On the impact of the State of the Union when it's held just days or weeks after the inauguration: "It's a second big bite of the apple. By custom … inaugural speeches are sort of lofty, the 50,000 foot view of how he wants his presidency to be perceived," says Hawkings. "Then he'll come back and talk more specifically about the debt ceiling and the sequester and that he wants more taxes. He'll push a little more explicitly on these gun control measures that are coming. It's the big picture and the fine grain, that's the difference.
Whether the inauguration and State of the Union could provide some momentum for bipartisanship going into the legislative year: "There'll be an effort at a bipartisan bump, both sides will see that it's in their best interest to try and look bipartisan," Hawkings says. "But this is a highly partisan time, so much so that some people were grumbling that the State of the Union has to be an invite sent by the speaker to the president to come up and that maybe John Boenher is so ticked off that he hasn't decided to send it. Of course he will send it' he's an institutionalist even when he's under fire."
On how the Presidential Inaugural Committee could have missed that the pastor chosen to make the benediction had previously expressed anti-gay views: "You do have to wonder. It only took a quick youtube search to find out that he had called being a gay person 'a sin in the eyes of god,'" Hawkings says. "These are pros, and it's the sort of unforced error that you wouldn't expect, especially in light of the fact … that Rick Warren, who gave the invocation four years ago … was also criticized for anti gay comments. You'd think this is the kind of thing they would have screened out."