Senate ‘nuclear’ deal raises budget hopes

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The Senate passed its first budget in four years this spring but so far some Senate Republicans have blocked appointing conferees to reconcile it with the House budget, which spends $91 billion less on appropriated programs in 2014. 

Begich said the rare bipartisan caucus meeting held in the old Senate chambers Monday night shows senators can still breach their differences by talking them over.

“The way you get to that is sit down like we did last night,” Begich said. “I didn’t support the budget. I didn’t like all the taxes in there.”

He suggested that congressional leaders on both sides want to cut a backroom deal in the fall and said that the “pubic is fed up” with that. He said in the end each senator’s vote is equal. 

“We have to step to the table. Everybody is afraid,” Begich said. “We shouldn’t fear the structure we have set up because we fear leadership.”

Coats noted how senators can agree on so much, such as the details of appropriations bills. 

“When we get to party vs. party it seems to break down,” he said wistfully. 

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also expressed renewed optimism. 

“I too hope that we can have a budget conference,” he said. “The process needs to work.”