Sen. Conrad: Gang of Six ready when Reid, Boehner plans fail

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Thursday that he expects both the Republicans and Democrats current deficit proposals to fail.

When that happens, the Gang of Six — a bipartisan group of senators who have negotiated their own deficit deal — will be standing by, and they will have a plan ready.

Speaker [John] Boehner’s [R-Ohio] plan may or may not pass the House — I assume it will, Conrad said on FOX News’s Happening Now.

But it will fail in the Senate. Senator [Harry] Reid [D-Nev.] has a plan here [in the Senate], but I think it’s likely that at this moment that won’t get cloture, won’t get 60 votes.”

The Senate likely would take a cloture vote on Reid’s bill in order to limit debate, avoid a filibuster and move forward to a vote.

Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he is certainly” in favor of Reid’s proposal. He added, however, that behind the scenes there are negotiations under way” to find a way to reconcile the two bills.

He also said Congress has to reach a deadlock” before achieving a breakthrough.”

Conrad said he believes Congress is on a path” to achieving a breakthrough before the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling. But he does not expect the breakthrough to be either Boehner’s or Reid’s bills.

Reality is that both sides have to see that their favorite position cannot prevail,” Conrad said. It’s at that point you can reach a principled compromise. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re very close.”

The Gang of Six is going to be prepared to be a part of the solution” once the deadlock happens, Conrad said. The group of senators has a draft that is undergoing revision by the staffs of all the members,” he said.

“After both sides see their preferred position will not prevail, that will be the key moment, and there’s a lot of work going on for that key moment,” he added.

The other five senators in the Gang of Six are Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Coburn and the rest of the group announced a deficit-reduction package earlier in July that would make $9 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, slash defense spending and raise nearly $1 trillion in revenue by ending tax breaks.

--This post was updated at 4:31 p.m.

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