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Congress: The budget battle

"Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has proposed slashing President Obama's discretionary spending by half with a budget resolution that is expected to fracture the Democratic Conference," The Hill writes. "The Senate Budget Committee chairman outlined his plan privately before colleagues at Tuesday's closed-door policy lunch — one day ahead of Obama's visit to Capitol Hill to discuss the topic — and publicly at a late-afternoon news conference."

"Conrad's budget resolution does not set aside a fixed amount of money for the president's healthcare reform or cap-and-trade proposals. Instead, it creates "deficit-neutral" reserve funds that give Senate and House committee chairmen a free hand to craft their own proposals as long as they do not add to the deficit."

Politico adds, "Obama, who will come to the Capitol Wednesday to meet with Senate Democrats, sought to downplay the differences at his White House news conference hours after Conrad's announcement. But he was firm that he expects the final budget plan to foster 'serious efforts at healthcare reform' and his major investments —including energy and education—were 'inseparable to this recovery.'"

MoveOn has radio ads up in districts and states of oft-targeted "moderate" Democrats, urging them to support President Obama's budget. The ads mention Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner and Evan Bayh, as well as Reps. Gabrielle Giffords, Harry Mitchell, Jason Altmire, Joe Donnelly, Chris Carney, Baron Hill and Mike McIntyre.

Hotline has more on the radio ads.

Is card check now doomed? The Hill: "Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) announced Tuesday he will oppose the card-check bill, giving an apparent death blow to the most important bill for organized labor this Congress."

Chris Hill "is expected to pass the first Senate hurdle to confirmation [as ambassador to Iraq]. But he faces a fight from some Republicans who wonder whether his lack of experience in the Middle East makes him unsuitable."

And Ted Kennedy "is back in Washington this week to shepherd a bipartisan bill that would greatly expand funding for national service and to hold a series of meetings on healthcare as part of an effort to draft a massive overhaul plan this summer."