Future unclear for debt-reduction commission amendment

A Senate effort to establish a bipartisan debt-reduction commission could be in jeopardy following Republicans' move to force a 767-page healthcare amendment to be read aloud, one of its sponsors said Wednesday.

While Democrats have long reacted lukewarmly to Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Judd Gregg's (R-N.H.) tough proposal, Conrad in particular predicted this afternoon that Democratic leaders might block it from their short-term increase to the country's debt ceiling.

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"I don't know what Sen. Reid intends to do after what just happened, " Conrad told reporters long after Senate Republicans tried to force a full reading of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) single-payer amendment. "I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to fill the tree."

"Filling the tree" describes the process by which the chamber's majority leader may stall and ultimately block consideration of competing or unwanted amendments.

However, Conrad did add that neither he nor Gregg would give up their fight to create the bipartisan commission, which would have the task of reporting to Congress a series of spending, tax and entitlement recommendations designed to reduce the country's debt.

He described that effort as "absolutely essential" to reducing the country's burgeoning debt.