Last week, House and Senate negotiators “struck a tentative deal” on the FY 2010 budget, including an agreement to use the reconciliation process to push through health care legislation. Under this process, the bill would be “protected from filibusters and passed by a simple majority vote.” Democrats have made clear that they would prefer to use the normal process, but are unable to proceed because of GOP obstruction. However, until recently, some Democrats — such as Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) — still resisted.
Conrad is one of the Democrats who has been chosen to serve on the budget conference committee, which is set to have a formal meeting today and then continue closed-door negotiations on Friday and through the weekend. “One outstanding question is what Conrad may get in exchange for not standing in the way of reconciliation provisions,” CQ wrote last week. Conrad, in reply, said, “Would I want things? Yeah.”
Ezra Klein worried that Conrad had “extracted promises that the administration would let him start tinkering with Social Security.” Yglesias pointed out that Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL) is also a confereee, and was the only Democrat to support President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security in 2005. Klein added:
That gives means five of eight conferees — Conrad, Boyd, Gregg, Ryan, and Hensarling — would be inclined to muck about with Social Security. It’s not solid evidence that Social Security is vulnerable. But when combined with Conrad’s odd quote above, it’s suggestive.
Today, however, ThinkProgress interviewed Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who was at the Center for American Progress to speak about Equal Pay Day 2009. DeLauro is also one of the eight budget conferees, and she said that the group would not be tinkering with Social Security:
DELAURO: As far as my understanding is concerned, is that there is not going to be any reference to Social Security. Social Security will be a discussion that will come in our overall health care debate, but my understanding is that at the moment, it is not part of the budget conference.