The Senate Budget Committee is prepared to mark up a budget next week, potentially as early as April 17, according to sources close to the panel.
The move to proceed with a budget resolution in committee is counter to the initial desires of Democratic leaders, who are reluctant to bring a resolution to the floor. Though leaders rarely state this publicly, they have feared political repercussions, such as the threat of a limitless number of show votes or forcing vulnerable Members up for re-election to take politically undesirable votes.
But aides in both parties suggested today that they have been instructed to expect a markup to begin as early as April 17 and to stretch as long as April 19.
Representatives for the majority and minority staff declined to specify when a markup would occur, only saying that it would take place next week when Senators return from recess.
“The fact is, what we don’t have is a longer-term plan. That’s what I’m going to mark up the first week I’m back in session,” Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad said on “Fox News Sunday,” though at the time it was unclear whether the North Dakota Democrat meant a formal budget resolution or something that would be more informal and in the shape of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan released in 2010.
Sources close to the committee but not its leaders suggested they have been advised the panel will take up a budget in regular order, however, and that Members have been influencing the budget framework with recommendations for weeks.
Conrad, however, reinforced Sunday what Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly said, that there is little desire to bring a budget resolution to the floor because government spending levels have been set for the imminent future by last summer’s Budget Control Act.
“That becomes a matter of time,” Conrad said on whether whatever comes out of committee will hit the floor. “Sen. Reid has made the judgment, perhaps quite correctly, that there is very little chance that we’re going to get the two sides together before the election.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.