Washington's seven Herculean budget tasks
In Greek mythology, Hercules was asked to perform 12 arduous labors, including the cleaning of the Augean stables, to redeem himself. This year, Congress and the President will have to perform only seven arduous labors to pass a federal budget.
President Reagan has taken the first step with his $1.024 trillion budget proposal.
The next step is up to Congress, which must pass what is called a ``concurrent budget resolution,'' or its own version of the budget, by April 15.
This exercise, like the Reagan proposal, must meet the Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction targets. Hearings on the budget will begin almost immediately.
Next, Congress has a deadline of June 15 to pass a reconciliation bill, which enforces the spending and revenue estimates assumed in the budget resolution and reconciles any differences between the two.
This is the specific piece of legislation that makes the most difficult spending cuts if there are any. It is mainly decided by the congressional committees behind closed doors.
The fourth hurdle falls only two weeks later, when the House must complete action on the appropriations bills, which are the actual spending bills for the coming year.
In the fifth chore, both the President and Congress must agree on what cuts they will make if the budget still does not meet the Gramm-Rudman targets. This must be done by Sept. l.
The sixth task involves a second Gramm-Rudman review by the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget.
Finally, the President and Congress have until Oct. 1 to either meet the Gramm-Rudman targets or decide what funds will be withheld, if any.