Sen. Conrad wants six-month debt-ceiling increase to buy time

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Thursday voiced support for a six-month hike to the debt ceiling.

Conrad, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Six that released a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction package earlier this week, said he's always preferred an initial short-term hike to the $14.3 trillion ceiling to buy more time for lawmakers to work on legislative language for a broader deal.

"You know, I've always believed that there will be first a shorter-term extension. I would prefer one that's perhaps six months in duration so that you start the process — you begin with a down payment, then you have time for the committees of Congress to come back with a floor package," Conrad said Thursday on MSNBC. "That's my own view of how this should work, and I think it's more in tune with the realities of the magnitude of the task."

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The Gang of Six plan has been met with support from Republican and Democratic senators, though it is uncertain whether it has enough support to pass either chamber. The plan has also received harsh criticism from some politicians on either side of the aisle.

Even supporters of the group's efforts have said there's not enough time to move the Gang's plan through Congress by an Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the ceiling. The plan would lower tax rates and eliminate $1 trillion in tax loopholes, something Conrad acknowledged would take time.

"The tax code is not going to be reformed in a matter of weeks — that's going to take months and months of work," Conrad continued.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney opened the door to a possible short-term hike, saying President Obama could support one if it were tied to consideration of a broader deficit-reduction package.

Obama previously had warned he would veto a short-term debt hike.

"The only exception to that is in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction, and we needed a very short-term extension, like a few days, to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process," Carney said. 


Watch Conrad below.


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This story was updated at 11:15 a.m.