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Hours before President Obama was to hold a prime time news conference -- in part to boost his $3.6 trillion budget plan -- a key Democratic senator Tuesday unveiled a scaled-down budget proposal.
Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota said the Senate Budget Committee, which he chairs, will vote on his version Wednesday.
"We've made hundreds of billions of dollars of changes to make this work to get down to the deficit goal and at the same time maintain the president's priorities -- education and energy and health care," Conrad said as he left a closed meeting in the Capitol, where he briefed Senate Democratic colleagues on his plan.
Conrad and other centrist Democratic senators -- whose support is critical to passing the legislation -- have raised concerns about the long-term impact of the president's spending plan on the deficit.
On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Obama's plan would cost more than $9 trillion over the next 10 years.
One hot-button item that will not be part of the Senate proposal is a controversial procedure called "budget reconciliation," Conrad said. Through reconciliation, Democrats would be able to pass major overhauls of health care, global warming and other key policies without the threat of a Republican-led filibuster.
While several Republicans said they were pleased Democrats would not use reconciliation, they remained skeptical, because the White House and House Democrats have expressed interest in using the procedure.