Conrad Announces Budget Deal

Posted April 27, 2009 at 9:59pm

House and Senate conferees tonight struck an agreement on a budget resolution, clearing the way for final votes later this week.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) announced the deal after a day of bicameral negotiations between Democrats over statuary “pay as you go— requirements sought by fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the House. However, it was unclear this evening how the PAYGO issue was resolved.

Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), a budget conferee, told reporters this evening that he and fellow Blue Dogs were pressing for PAYGO to be enacted into law. While President Barack Obama last week also endorsed a PAYGO law, Conrad said he had concerns over the change, which would put the White House in charge of budget scoring decisions.

The final budget resolution, which is nonbinding but guides Congressional spending, cuts $10 billion from Obama’s discretionary spending request, while cutting middle classes taxes by $764 billion and fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax for three years without offsets. Conrad said the framework would cut the deficit in half by 2012 and by two-thirds by 2014.

It also includes reconciliation instructions for health care and student loan reforms, which would allow those issues to avoid a Senate filibuster. In a nod to GOP concerns, reconciliation could not be used until after Oct. 15, Conrad said earlier today.