The tactics President Obama and Congressional Democrats are using to pass major policies resemble those of Hugo Chavez, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said yesterday.

During a budget conference committee meeting Monday, Gregg, temporarily Obama's nominee to lead the Commerce Department, blasted Democrats for adding budget reconciliation language to the healthcare reform section of the budget. That would allow Democrats to pass reform with 51 votes instead of 60.

"I can understand shaking Hugo Chavez's hand," Gregg said, referring to Obama's greeting of Venezuelan President at the Summit of the Americas, "but I cannot understand embracing his politics."

The White House pushed to include the budget reconciliation language, with the proviso that Democrats should try for a bipartisan bill first.

It's not certain that reconciliation will be used. Since reconciliation can only be used on provisions affecting government spending or revenue, Republicans could challenge portions of a bill they don't consider germane, leaving the overall legislation incomplete.

House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative budget deal last night, setting up potential votes in the House today and in the Senate tomorrow.