Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) breaks with House Democrats on reconciliation.

While in the process of idly mentioning that the deficit’s going to be worse than originally indicated, Senator Conrad (D-Countrywide) says something very, very interesting:

Conrad also said he did not plan to include any instructions in the budget plan he is crafting for health care or the greenhouse gas initiatives. Such instructions written into the budget would give it a privileged status and make it easier to become law, but likely spark a nasty fight with minority Republicans.

This is in reference to “reconciliation,” which is a process by which the Democrats would be able to put specific legislation into bills that could be passed by a simple majority in the Senate, instead of the 60 vote system that we’ve effectively evolved over the years. The House is currently threatening to impose it over health care, if those awful Republicans don’t ‘see reason’ (translation: ‘do what the Democrats say’): we have a deadline until September.

Or… not, it seems. Conrad, his poor judgment in accepting sweetheart mortgage deals aside, is apparently smart enough to be thinking about a time period beyond that of the 111th Congress. We didn’t evolve a sixty-vote standard in the Senate for no particular reason, after all; it exists to keep legislative fights from getting too binary. Take it away, and there’s one less reason for one party’s legislators to talk to the other party’s legislators. One big less reason. And one less reason for the other party not to do the exact same thing when they take power again.

Put another way: Senator Conrad is evidently not convinced that his Senatorial career will end before the Democrats lose control of Congress. Can’t say I blame him for being cautious…

Moe Lane

Crossposted at Moe Lane.