Senate budget chair won't hold vote on budget plan

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

Earier today, I noted that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., had embraced the budget proposal of President Obama's fiscal commission as the Senate Democrats' budget. But speaking to reporters this afternoon, Conrad announced that there was no plan to actually vote on the budget either at the committee level or with the full senate at least until after the election, effectively rendering meaningless the proposed committee hearing tomorrow that was supposed to "mark up," or rewrite, the proposal after debating changes.

“This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” Conrad said, according to the Hill. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking Republican member of the committee, released a statement blasting the news.

“Chairman Conrad’s stunning announcement, forced on him by his party, is a defining moment in 2012 and a national embarrassment for a Senate majority that is unable to meet the great challenge of our time," Sessions said. "It’s been 1,084 days since the last time the Senate’s Democrat majority passed a budget plan, despite a simple majority threshold for passage. Our nation has never needed a budget more, and, as a party, Senate Democrats haven’t produced a plan for three years or conducted a committee mark-up for two. Today Chairman Conrad announced that the promised mark-up was effectively being cancelled—there will only be opening statements, no amendments or votes—following an apparent uprising from the Senate Democrat Conference that remains unwilling and unable to work on a budget plan. They have forfeited their claim on leadership. Majority Leader Reid’s unflinching decree that the Senate will not pass a budget reveals a party in Washington incapable of addressing the colossal spending and debt that threatens our nation with decline."

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