To assign a lower priority
This expression, which obviously alludes to a cooking stove where the pots needing attention are likely to be in the front while those requiring less maintenance would be in the back, apparently dates to 1960s America.
For example: "Truce talks, once more, have been temporarily pushed on the back burner." - US News & World Report (as recorded in America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Titelman.
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