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Schumer: Alternatives to Ryan budget 'not the point'

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Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has sidelined his committee’s work while separate bipartisan negotiations, led by Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE, continue.

Conrad may still release a 2012 budget and the White House could come forward with a more specific proposal, Schumer said, but his party is in no hurry to talk about any proposal other than Ryan’s — even though House appropriators have already started work on spending bills that use the Ryan plan as a foundation.

“You can’t do anything until you get that off the table,” Schumer said.

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration have stepped up their attacks on Ryan's Medicare proposal as the Senate nears its scheduled vote.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusBiden seeks to use the bully pulpit he has on COVID-19 Biden unveils COVID-19 task force Biden's COVID-19 crisis team takes shape as virus rages MORE attacked the plan last week during a news conference with Senate Democrats. And Don Berwick, who runs the agency that administers Medicare, also took aim at the Ryan plan over the weekend.

"We're sending them out on their own into a very, very difficult terrain. I think there will be Medicare beneficiaries in the future, under that plan, who won't be able to afford insurance. They won't be covered. And I think that would be a very bad thing to do for our nation," Berwick said during an interview on C-SPAN that was co-moderated by Healthwatch.