Conrad: ‘No Sense Being Frustrated’ by Commission Vote

by Andrew Stiles

Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said there’s “no sense being frustrated” about the commission’s failure to meet the 14-vote threshold necessary to send its final proposal to congress. There was never much of a chance of that happening to begin with, he said. Indeed, the 11 yes votes the plan did receive were a lot more than many had expected, and Conrad considers that a promising result. “We got 60 percent of the commission to vote for something extremely controversial, ” he said. “Sixty percent in the Senate would prevail. That’s a good sign.”

However, it’s worth noting that members of congress who will retain their seats in the 112th Congress — including every returning House member — voted against the plan by a 6-to-4 margin (see here).

Asked if the Senate might consider individual pieces of the proposal for passage, Conrad said that would be a “huge mistake.” “I don’t think you can pass something of this magnitude unless it’s a package,” he said.

Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said the current plan had many aspects that might be considered for the next budget, but that he would like to see even greater deficit-reduction measures.

With the fiscal commission now adjourned, what’s next? Conrad said he would like to see a summit involving the president and the leadership of congress, similar to what he and Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.) initially proposed earlier this year, a plan that failed to get approved by the Senate. “We need the administration at the table,” Conrad said.

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