Conrad Reopens Door to Fast-Track Budget Rules

Posted March 30, 2009 at 10:30am

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is leaving the door firmly ajar to using fast-track budget rules to move health care and education reforms this year.

Conrad did not include so-called “reconciliation— language in his version of the fiscal 2010 budget that the Senate began debating Monday morning, but he did not rule out agreeing to add it in the House-Senate budget conference committee that will come in the next few weeks.

“I don’t think reconciliation is the right way to write fundamental reform legislation. … I would strongly prefer not to do it that way,— said Conrad in a conference call with the media on Monday.

But he added, “I don’t control the outcome of the conference.—

The House Budget panel included the fast-track budget rules — which would prevent health care and education legislation from being filibustered in the Senate — in its version of the spending blueprint, which the House will debate on Wednesday or Thursday. And House leaders have insisted that the Senate agree to the language in order to help usher President Barack Obama’s priorities through Congress.

Obama and other Democrats had also hoped to protect the president’s climate change initiative from filibuster, but Democrats said opposition to that strategy from key centrists could cause more problems for the legislation than a GOP blockade.