Sen. Conrad defends decision to avoid budget vote

"Some have criticized me and said, 'Well, you didn't vote on it,' " Conrad said on the Senate floor Thursday morning, while speaking for more than 30 minutes. "That's right, we're not going to vote on it until we believe there is the best possible chance to actually get results."

Conrad said the commission's plan was unlikely to pass ahead of the 2012 elections.

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"The truth is people on all sides are not likely to get off their fixed positions before a national election," Conrad said.

He also rejected GOP criticisms of the failure of the Senate to pass any budget for the last three years, and repeated his argument that the Budget Control Act, passed last year, sets a budget for three years.

"We have a budget for this year and next, it's contained in the Budget Control Act," Conrad said, adding that this law is actually stronger than a budget resolution, which would not have the force of law.

Unless stopped by lawmakers, at the end of this year sequestration cuts from the Budget Control Act will take effect, in addition to the repeal of the Bush tax rates. Conrad indicated that if he can find the support, he would propose the Bowles-Simpson budget as an alternative during the lame-duck session.

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