Senate Dems weigh including budget blueprint in supplemental spending bill

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said on Tuesday that he and Senate Democratic leaders are considering including a deeming resolution in the $59 billion emergency supplemental spending package that is expected to be considered by the Senate in the next two weeks.

Asked by reporters about the possibility, Conrad said it is "conceivable" that the deeming resolution could be included in the package and that he was already looking into the possibility.

The resolution would set the discretionary spending level for fiscal 2011 and allow appropriators to move forward with drafting and passing the 12 annual spending bills needed to fund government programs for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

"We have to look at all options because it appears that the chance of doing a budget resolution in both chambers is fading," including a deeming resolution, Conrad said.

But despite "mixed signals" from the House, Conrad believes there is still a chance that Congress could pass a full five-year budget resolution. "I have not given up yet," he said. "There is still some prospect, although clearly it's fading. So the best we might be able to do is a deeming resolution."

Conrad added that if the deeming resolution option is pursued, he would like to include the $1.124 trillion in discretionary funding that was part of the budget resolution passed by his committee last month. "But I am open to other suggestions," he noted.

The resolution includes a three-year freeze in non-security discretionary spending and cuts discretionary spending by $4 billion below the $1.128 trillion proposed in President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget.

In the House, Democratic leaders have been working to bridge differences within their caucus over how much discretionary spending to provide in the budget blueprint. The Blue Dogs are pushing for a 2 percent a year cut in non-security discretionary spending for three years and a freeze for another two, but liberal Democrats are opposed to the proposal because they are concerned it would hurt federal programs on which their constituents depend.

At issue is that Democrats from conservative districts, like the Blue Dogs, are reluctant to vote for a budget that will likely have relatively high deficit levels over the next five years, particularly ahead of the November midterm election.

Veteran members of the Blue Dogs have also said that Conrad's budget resolution, which would reduce the deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product by fiscal 2015, did not go far enough in its deficit reduction and spends too much.

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