Congress Prepping Budget Resolution for 100-Day Mark
By Shailagh Murray
Congress wants to deliver a big gift to President Obama on his 100th day in office: a fiscal 2010 budget resolution that makes room for his top domestic policy priorities.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said budget negotiators could complete work on a final plan by Monday, clearing a path for House and Senate passage by the middle of next week. A senior member of the House leadership said the White House is urging congressional leaders to wrap up action by Wednesday, the official 100-day mark -- even though Obama aides have downplayed the occasion as a "Hallmark holiday."
Several issues remain unresolved. The White House is seeking special "reconciliation" rules to protect health-care reform and an expansion of the federal student loan program from a Senate filibuster and allow the bills to pass with 51 votes.
Some Democrats remain unhappy about the proposed student-loan changes because they would eliminate the role of private lenders in the Pell Grant program. And Republicans who want to play a role in health-care reform warn that reconciliation would effectively shut them out, stoking partisan rancor in a landmark debate that cries out for consensus. The House budget blueprint includes reconciliation instructions, but the Senate version does not. Negotiators agree that reconciliation likely will be included, but Reid said the language wasn't final yet.
House and Senate negotiators also are continuing to debate possible budget rules that would be aimed at preventing future expansion of the deficit. And moderate Democrats in the House and Senate were pressing for creation of a special commission to propose ways to control entitlement spending, although that idea is strongly opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and has little chance of enactment.
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