Conrad: Reconciliation language hasn't been requested

Reconciliation rules allow legislation to pass through the Senate with a simple majority instead of 60 votes. The fast-track process is designed only for items that reduce deficits.

Conrad didn't include reconciliation instructions in his initial budget resolution draft last year. House Democrats included them in their budget, and they ended up in the resolution that passed both chambers.

Democrats face a tough fight this year over the budget because it's an election year and projections of large deficits, House leaders have said. Aides to House Democratic leaders said they're waiting to see what the Senate produces and will act afterwards accordingly.

Conrad said he believes Democrats have the political will to pass one.

"You look back at the pattern, 2002, 2004, 2006 -- no budget," Conrad said. "I broke that in 2008. We did a budget in an election year, and I hope to do it again. It's hard."

He said he expected the House to take up a budget.

"If the House didn't do a budget, it wouldn't make any sense for us [to do one]," Conrad told reporters Monday. "Hopefully, the House will."

Conrad said he's aiming to produce a budget that would lead to deficits around 3 percent of gross domestic product. President Barack Obama has set the same target, but his budget request would lead to deficits in future years that drop only to 4 percent of GDP.

This year's budget is expected by the Congressional Budget Office to hit $1.5 trillion, or roughly 10 percent of GDP.

The non-binding budget resolution sets discretionary spending caps for the coming fiscal year, lays out the majority's fiscal policies for future years and serves as the initial step in the reconciliation process.