Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has again delayed the introduction and markup of a budget proposal, according to the Hill. Conrad says he will defer that part of the process until after the bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joe Biden conclude:
Democrats have been hammered by the GOP for failing to agree, within their own caucus, on a budget alternative to the House-passed plan.
Delaying a budget resolution will push the Senate appropriations process closer to the end of the fiscal year in September. The Biden talks could drag on until late July, just before the final deadline — Aug. 2 — for raising the debt ceiling.
This is the second bipartisan "gang" to try developing a budget compromise outside of the committee. The first, the so-called "Gang of Six", was pronounced dead yesterday after Gang member Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) pulled out of talks. And, as the Budget Committee's ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) remarked on the Senate floor, yesterday marked the 750th day since the Senate last passed a budget. In a conference call yesterday afternoon with bloggers and reporters, Sessions said that he believes the Senate Democrats "don't intend to do anything" on passing a budget.
One cause of the delay is likely the fracture within the Democratic caucus on the issue of deficit reduction. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who sits on the Budget Committee and caucuses with the Democrats, has been advocating for more tax increases and fewer spending cuts, while moderate Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has said he is against any tax increases.