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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 02/27/2011

In latest sign shutdown may be averted, Conrad says GOP plan is 'acceptable'

By Felicia Sonmez

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Sunday tentatively signed onto a stopgap measure put forth by House Republicans that would keep the government funded through mid-March, a move that further decreases the likelihood of a government shutdown on Friday.

"It is acceptable to me to have $4 billion in savings in a two-week package, sure," Conrad said in an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to the cuts included in the measure laid out last Friday by House Republicans. "The makeup of that is up for discussion and negotiation. That negotiation is ongoing, and I'm confident we'll achieve conclusion on that."

The measure currently funding the federal government is set to expire Friday unless Congress acts. Both chambers are still at odds over a compromise that would keep the government funded through the end of September, with House Republicans favoring a $61 billion reduction in spending and Senate Democrats rejecting those cuts as too deep.

Meantime, both sides appear to be nearing agreement on the two-week funding measure introduced by House Republicans late last week. Senate Democrats had initially opposed the measure until it became clear that it would cut $4 billion from programs that President Obama has already proposed eliminating.

Congress returns early this week from its week-long President's Day recess. The House is slated to vote Tuesday on the stopgap measure; if it passes, it would then be sent to the Senate.

While Conrad on Sunday did not object to the Republican stopgap plan, he emphasized that he favors a longer-term agreement, "hopefully through the end of the year," adding that "this two-week business is not the way to go."

Asked whether he was dissatisfied with any particular cuts among the $4 billion included in the stopgap measure, Conrad pointed to the elimination of some federal highway funding.

"For example, highway spending, which I think most everybody says is badly needed in this country, creates American jobs, and also makes America more competitive," Conrad said. "Does it make sense to be cutting there? Many of us don't think so."

The House Republican plan would eliminate $650 million in funding for a one-time Federal Highway Administration program for the states; President Obama had not sought to renew the program in his fiscal year 2012 budget request.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 27, 2011; 2:20 PM ET
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Next: The week ahead on the Hill: Shutdown averted?


It is good to see Conrad is joining the GOP in snuffing out Obama's out of control spending! I'm sure more Dems will join to make this a Bi-partisan rejection of obama and his socialist ways!

Posted by: Realist201 | February 27, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

This is the message we were hoping they would get this past mid-term election. Stop the wasteless spending!

We need the Republicans just as much as we need the Democrats. They help to balance each other out and keep each other in check. You can't run a successful country off of one form of government alone. Neither can we continue to operate under a socialistic type government. The major problem with socialism is that eventually you will run out of everyone else's money.

Posted by: luv_my_stang_jezebel | February 27, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Quite honestly I am sick of the bad behanvior and child like rhetoric. They can all kiss it as far as I am concerned. Its all a charade. Its all smoke and mirrors to put on a show for their constituents or should I say, the ones that voted for them. Neither side is a shining example of good democracy. When it comes down to it, they all dance with the devil.

Posted by: IGotLotsToSay | February 27, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

To use one of Obama's favorite lines, let's be clear. Obama submitted his fiscal 2011 budget to congress on February 1, 2010, and despite decisive majorities (you know, the kinds that allow passage of major legislation such as Obamacare and the $787 billion "stimulus" without a SINGLE GOP VOTE), congress just couldn't get around to passing this budget before the elections hit.

The Republicans, sensing a "course correction" mandate from the people (you know, the kind that comes from winning 63 seats and the majority in the House - the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest in a mid-term election since 1938; 6 seats in the Senate; and a record-breaking 680 seats in state legislatures, where 29 of the 50 states now have Republican governors), took the opportunity of this national mood swing to not just rubber-stamp Obama's 2011 budget but to trim it back - just like they promised before the election with their "Pledge to America" document. So that's what they did - they cut it back $61 billion from enacted levels, which is $100 billion less than Obama's budget.

The Dems, of course, are calling these cuts "draconian," and are kicking and screaming at the thought of rolling back the government one iota. Draconian is evidently $61 billion worth of cuts in a $3.69 trillion budget (this is from the NYT; Wikipedia estimates it at $3.82 trillion). Let's translate that into numbers that most of us could identify with. According to the latest census data for household income (2009), the median annual household income in the U S was $51,425. A 1.65% cutback, which is what $61 billion is to $3.69 trillion, would equal about $71 a month out of a $4,285 a month budget.

Now, I don't mean to pooh-pooh such a cutback, but "draconian" isn't a word that would come to mind especially if you consider this: If the median household ($51,425 income) spent money like the federal government, then it would have to match up against $90,508 worth of spending because that is the same ratio that the federal budget uses. Again, according to Wikipedia, a $3.82 trillion budget is paid by $2.17 trillion of revenue and $1.65 trillion of new borrowing. Can you imagine bringing in $51,425 each year but spending $90,508? Only if you're the federal government.

Posted by: coffeetime | February 27, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Since the Republicans are responsible for THE WORST RECESSION OF OUR LIVES, what is their plan to restore the millions of jobs THEY SHED? Thought so. They have NO PLAN.Cutting government spending during a recession is THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO. See what happened in once prosperous IRELAND. Where was your concern when Bush started 2 IDIOTIC WARS AND.......CUT TAXES ON THE RICH? Go to hell you dirtbags!

Posted by: hughsie48 | February 27, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

If any of these so called leaders had any guts they would cut everything including there own salaries by 5% until the debt was paid.

Posted by: Woodstocknative | February 27, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

American voters that care about continuing our economic growth need to vote in 2012. Send a message to the Republicans that they will no longer be allowed lead as they only care about their rich companies and weatlhy folks. Further, you need to email and/or call (202-225-6205) BOehner and inform him of how disappointed we are in his lack of leadership skills and/or character. Boehner is being PUNKED (like gov Walker in his psuedo Kock phone call) by the Tea Baggers which care only for deep long budget cuts. Boehner is allowing them to dictate to him how to bring down our delicate economy. Look at how far we have come in 2 years. President Obama and his administration have done all the heavy lifting; while Boehner and the other hypocritical Republicans are fighting for the top 2%, including oil companies where Boehner needs to give them additional subsidies at our expense. Tax credits for the 2% are still not paid for:REMEMBER THE FAMOUS CREDIT CARD OF BUSH/CHENEY? We are digging out because of the Republicans, please vote them OUT in 2012. All the deep long cuts in Boehner's budget negatively affect the middle class and low income families only. Sure we can do better to continue our recovery. Contact Boehner and vote in 2012. God bless the USA and strengthen the middle class and low income families from the Republicans' attack.

Posted by: netstoy | February 27, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

If the modern democrats negotiated with the British King George we'd still be British colonies.

Posted by: jkelley11 | February 27, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

If any of these so called leaders had any guts they would cut everything including there own salaries by 5% until the debt was paid.

Posted by: Woodstocknative | February 27, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse




Posted by: DrainYou | February 27, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Kent Conrad is an a--hole. He has always been corporate boy. Anything to give more money to the wealthy. You can bet when he retires he will make a lot of money.

Posted by: bluethunder1 | February 27, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I love the Printapons website. It is so convenient and easy to use. It's coupons are great and there are sooo many. 5 stars all the way.

Posted by: marydbeaty | February 28, 2011 3:26 AM | Report abuse

NOOOOOOO! Don't compromise!!!! Us young federal employees need to experience the hardships of a government shutdown (Sleeping in until noon and playing the PS3 until 4:00AM). How are we going to ever appreciate the job that we do(Bureaucratic horse hockey)?!?!?! We need to see how important our role in the government is!!! (Political pawns). Come-on Congress, don't be so quick to compromise just for the sake of compromise... Stick to those guns!!! (Or you'll lose some of your "Campaign" contributions)

Posted by: BigNutz1 | February 28, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

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