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Conrad Says Democrats Have a Budget Deal

Updated: 7:47 p.m.

Senate Budget Committee Democrats have reached a deal on a budget and could unveil it as soon as next week if the Senate remains in session.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad told reporters after meeting with other Democrats on Wednesday afternoon that they had reached a deal, but he did not disclose details of the plan.

But the North Dakota Democrat told Roll Call later in the day that the plan would exceed the $4 trillion in deficit reduction proposed last year by the chairmen of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. However, Conrad said he does not plan to bring the budget to a committee markup or to the Senate floor for votes while leadership negotiations continue on a long-term debt deal.

Conrad said he felt that the time was right for committee Democrats to put forward their own blueprint after bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden and the Senate’s bipartisan “gang of six” talks did not produce results.

Democrats have been under pressure for months from Republicans for failing to bring a budget to the floor amid the largest deficits in the nation’s history.

However, Senate Democrats have been loathe to vote on their own budget, given that it was highly unlikely to pass the House and was certain to subject them to almost limitless Republican political amendment votes. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in May brought up a controversial House-passed budget blueprint that calls for Medicare to be changed into a subsidy for private insurance. That effort failed, but Reid succeeded in getting Senate Republicans on the record as for or against that plan.

Congress’ internal deadline for passing a bicameral budget plan is April 15 every year, but it’s a deadline it routinely ignores.

Politico first reported the apparent breakthrough among Democrats on Wednesday.

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