By Bernie Becker - 04/26/11 08:12 PM EDT
The North Dakota Democrat has, to this point, pushed back against a Senate budget alternative in part because of the talks ongoing between the Gang of Six. Conrad and another member of that group, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), said over the weekend that they hoped to roll out an agreement soon, to ensure their work remains relevant in the discussion over deficit reduction.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), another member of the Gang of Six, is also a Budget Committee member and signed on to the letter from committee Republicans.
Vice President Joe Biden is set to kick off budget discussions next week with a select group of lawmakers chosen by congressional leaders from both parties, a proposal President Obama pushed in his deficit-reduction speech this month. The House also recently passed the FY 2012 budget largely crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Budget Committee chairman.
Stu Nagurka, a spokesman for Conrad, responded to the GOP letter in a statement, saying the Budget panel has consistently held open mark-ups on budgets and that Conrad knows well the need to urgently deal with deficits.
"That’s why he has been working hard for months on a bipartisan, comprehensive deficit reduction plan," Nagurka added. "He wants to give the Group of 6 a chance to reach agreement so that he could consider using that bipartisan plan as a framework for the Senate budget resolution.”
For his part, Senate Budget Republicans have not been shy in pushing for more action from Democrats on the 2012 budget. Earlier this month, the group asked the president to submit a new budget for next year, saying his April 13 speech represented a shift from his original proposal.