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Conrad: Congress 'probably won't act before the election' on budget

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But the senator expressed optimism that looming budget triggers will force bipartisan compromise on legislation modeled on the Bowles-Simpson plan.

He's said he plans to offer the plan as a blue-print for the budget process in his committee this week.

"I think that is what the country needs," Conrad told Bloomberg TV. "At the end of the day, if we do not come together around some kind of bipartisan plan, nothing will happen. The country needs us to act."

Conrad said he favored the Bowles-Simpson approach because it was the only plan that "has had substantial support on both sides."

"So that is what I am advancing and that is what I am putting before the committee. I recognize we probably won't act before the election, but right after the election we will face the expiration of all the tax cuts, face the sequester, an additional $1.2 trillion of cuts. Hopefully, that will motivate colleagues to make the hard decisions."

But Conrad was evasive on whether there was support for his approach from the White House, seemingly saying that everyone was hesitant to act before the election.

"I informed the head of OMB yesterday this was the tack that I would take. I've informed my colleagues every step of the way that this is the direction that we're going. I have lots of support. I've had dozens of colleagues call me and say, way to go, this is what we need to do, but probably cannot happen until after the election. I understand that," Conrad said. "It is hard for both sides to get out of their fixed positions right before an election, but what is absolutely essentially take on this debt threat. I think Bowles-Simpson at least provides the best building block to take on this question."

Still, Conrad insisted the looming expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts could force a post-election compromise.

"At the end of the day, we will face the expiration of all the Bush-era tax cuts. We will face that sequester. I think that will provide us the motivation to do what has to be done in any event. I am hopeful," Conrad said. "Is it hard? Absolutely."

The chairman also said it was "clear" that tax increases would be part of any plan.

"It is very clear that those of us who are enjoying a higher income will have to do somewhat more than we are doing. We're going to have to ask everybody to contribute to this solution," Conrad said.