Meantime, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington have emphasized their willingness to continue discussions in hopes of laying groundwork for a formal conference.
“Time is the ally of everyone,” said former Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota. “I really anticipate, as we get later in the year, there will be an opportunity for an agreement. We will get more on the spending side, and more on the revenue side.”
Karl Struble, a Democratic political consultant, said Reid’s decision reflected a cautious Democratic political strategy tailored for a midterm election that usually favors the party that does not hold the White House.
Struble said Democrats were hoping to hold on to and possibly enlarge their Senate majority by emphasizing issues that have been blocked by Republicans. “It’s an outgrowth of what you see happening on gun legislation and immigration. The public can see nothing is happening,” Struble said.
“The important thing is to be reasonable. If we are reasonable and nothing is getting done, then it must be the other people are not being reasonable,” Struble said.
Republicans argue that pre-conference frameworks for negotiations and delays in appointing conference negotiators have been common in recent years.
They point out, for example, that the Democratic House majority in 2009 waited until May before naming negotiators for the last budget conference committee. That was about two months after the House adopted its fiscal blueprint.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.