Conrad Opts to Keep Budget Committee Chair

Budget Post Affords Senator Influence Over Legislation Critical to North Dakota

Washington, DC After consulting constituents across North Dakota and colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Senator Kent Conrad announced today that he will retain his leadership position as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and stay as a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"After many conversations with constituents, ag leaders and Senate colleagues, it is clear that the people of North Dakota are best served with me remaining the Chairman of the Budget Committee,” Senator Conrad said.  “As Chairman of the Budget Committee and a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, the people of North Dakota will be best represented in negotiations on the next Farm Bill, legislation to reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and renewed efforts to put our nation’s fiscal house in order.”

Senator Conrad cited his ability to shape the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills from his position as Chairman of the Budget Committee and as a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, as important factors in his decision.

"Even though we are about to write a new Farm Bill — and chairing the Agriculture Committee would be something I would very much enjoy — most everyone has concluded that I am in a very strong position to affect the outcome of the next Farm Bill by remaining a senior member of the Agriculture Committee and retaining the Chairmanship of the Budget Committee," Senator Conrad said.

A coalition of 15 leading North Dakota agriculture organizations yesterday wrote Senator Conrad urging him to remain Chairman of the Budget Committee:

"We believe that your continued chairmanship of the Budget Committee would be a better use of your experience and seniority on behalf of North Dakota agriculture, as well as to our country during these challenging times for our nation’s budget."

In addition, the Grand Forks Herald — one of North Dakota's largest newspapers — recently called for Senator Conrad to remain Budget Committee chairman, noting he played a central role in the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill and "didn’t need the chairman’s gavel to be effective." In its November 13 editorial, the Herald wrote "while Conrad at Agriculture could craft a short-term boost for North Dakota, Conrad at Budget could help build the foundation for long-term prosperity — for not only North Dakota but also the entire U.S."

"Obviously, the biggest hurdle we now face is the long-term fiscal challenge confronting our nation. We’re on an unsustainable course," Senator Conrad said. "As chairman of the Budget Committee and a senior member of the Agriculture and Finance committees, I will be best positioned to help get results for North Dakota and the nation."


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Steve Posner (202) 224-7925