The New York Times is reporting (in a balanced piece of a reporting) that Donald Trump may face resistance from the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, over his first budget proposal.

How does a U.S President get a budget passed and why is the Executive the budget requester? What is the process and sequence of events?

For instance; who writes the draft budget for the Executive and how does the draft end up in Congress? How is it presented to the floor and finalised and once agreed, how does the money disseminate to the agencies of the Government?

I am especially interested in why the Speaker of the House is listed as likely to challenge the Executive because in the United Kingdom the Speaker remains strictly non-partisan, and renounces all affiliation with his or her former political party when taking office as well as when leaving the office. The Speaker does not take part in debate or vote.

Note: I understand the reasoning for Paul Ryan to oppose Trump is that Trump promised no cuts to Medicaid and Social Security; my question is (abstracted) why is the Speaker role the primary challenger to the Executive branch?

  • You seem to have 2 questions here: why is POTUS proposing budgets and why is the speaker challenging him. I'd recommend sticking to one (your first question is much better). Feb 27, 2017 at 20:26
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    No. I am not interested in either of those things. That is not my question at all. I am interested in the process and the roles. Feb 27, 2017 at 20:28
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    "For instance; who writes the draft budget for the Executive?" The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House Office, which coordinates requests from various departments and agencies in accord with the President's priorities. The head of the OMB is one of the top half dozen personal advisors to the President who don't actually run operational agencies themselves.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 28, 2017 at 13:25

2 Answers 2


in the United Kingdom the Speaker remains strictly non-partisan, and renounces all affiliation with his or her former political party when taking office as well as when leaving the office. The Speaker does not take part in debate or vote.

Other than a coincidence of names and the nominal role of presiding officer, the two Speakers (US/UK) have little in common. The UK Speaker of the House of Commons is closer to the US Parliamentarian of the Senate, who advises the presiding officer of the Senate and makes certain decisions related to reconciling budgets with the House. In the US, the presiding officers are not non-partisan (the Senate rotates, frequently among rather junior members).

In the US, the Speaker is closer to being the Prime Minister, the one responsible for organizing the legislature. This is somewhat confused in that a Prime Minister in the UK also has some of the powers that reside in the presidency in the US. The US Speaker of the House is the head of the House of Representatives, as the Majority Leader controls the Senate and the President controls the executive branch. Tax bills must originate in the House, so Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House has more budget influence than Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader of the Senate.

Each cabinet secretary is responsible for developing a budget that the Director of Management and the Budget puts together into an overall budget proposal. Congress uses that as a framework (or counterpoint) for their budget resolutions. Congress has to pass (and the President sign or Congress override a veto) appropriations bills for each actual section. That is the legislation that actually allows spending. Without those, either they need a continuing resolution or the President has to authorize emergency spending.

Budget process references:

Another point of confusion is that in the UK, the Prime Minister is the consensus choice of the governing coalition. I.e. the other members of parliament choose the Prime Minister. In the US, the President is directly elected, so the President is not necessarily the choice of the Representatives or Senators even if of the same party. And of course, calling Donald Trump a Republican is itself questionable. He has more experience as a Democrat and gets many of his ideas from Democrats.

That's not to say that he has no points in common with Republicans. Just that he is by no means a conventional Republican, like Ryan or McConnell.

Trump promised no cuts to Medicaid

No. Trump promised not to touch Medi***care***. He never promised anything about Medicaid.

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    Very good answer, but just one point to clarify: In the Parliamentary model, the Members of Parliament don't choose the Prime Minister—the sovereign does (and it is almost always the leader of the majority party or, rarely but when applicable, the leader of the majority coalition).
    – Geoff Ball
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:23
  • You may want to explain the difference between medicaid and medicare (cynically, the difference is that the latter is live wire thanks to AARP voting muscle, paraphrasing last 538 podcast)
    – user4012
    Feb 28, 2017 at 13:19

Technically speaking the president has no power in the budgetary process. You'll often times hear the phrase "Congress has the power of the purse." This is what its referring to. It is Congress that proposes and passes budgetary laws.

Now that being said, the President is an influential member of government. Using that influence presidents often times(see edit) suggest budgets. Congress has no obligation to accept or even review this suggestion, but in cases like this where the executive and legislative branches are of (relatively) similar minds it just makes sense for them to all work together. Ultimately what would happen is that Congress will propose their own budget that may be very similar to the president's budget, but officially has no ties to the president's proposal.

Its also worth mentioning that the budget is a bill, and like all bills the president must sign it for the bill to become a law (or get his veto overridden). So the president does have some official sway over the budgetary process.

You also mentioned that in this case Paul Ryan is voicing opposition to some of Trump's plans. In America, as opposed to the UK, the speaker is not a non-partisan role. The speaker makes no such renunciations and as such is free to represent their constituents in the way they best see fit. In this particular case the speaker is one of (not necessarily the primary) challengers to the president's budget (although Ryan likely supports most of the budget, he just has issues with part of it). There are several other those. The Democrats would likely oppose most of his budget, and I'm sure there would be other republicans who oppose parts of the budget.

Turns out I was slightly mistaken for part of my answer. There is actually legislation that appears to mandate that the President submit a budget proposal by the 15th of February. This is part of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and is the same legislation that created the congressional budget office. Its important to remember though that the president's budget still does not bind congress and they are free to ignore all of the president's suggestions.

  • That's informative; thank you. That is not evident from US-centric reporting abroad. Feb 27, 2017 at 20:29
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    It may help to note this is the most powerful legislator in one house negotiating with the executive who are this time of the same party. And that there are three parties to the negotiation; the house, the senate and the president.
    – user9389
    Feb 27, 2017 at 22:39
  • The actual budget process is bit more complicated than this. The President's budget proposal leads to a budget resolution by Congress which leads to appropriation bills that actually authorize the spending. Except Congress doesn't always pass a budget resolution each year, leaving the previous year's in effect, and except that the appropriation bills are almost never passed into law in time, so you get continuing resolutions to fill the gap until they do get passed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_resolution
    – Ross Ridge
    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:04

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