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Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) arrives for a closed door Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing to discuss the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the intelligence and security situation in other Arab Spring countries at the Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., Thursday, November 15, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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FILE - In this March 31, 2012, file photo, Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., speaks before the North Dakota GOP Convention in Bismarck, N.D. Berg is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kent Conrad. North Dakota’s prosperity from an energy boom as the rest of the country slowly crawls out from under the economic wreckage of four years ago is making a contest of a Senate race that Democrats had all but conceded. A former state attorney general with ties to the energy industry, Heidi Heitkamp, may be the state’s only Democrat who can prevent the party from losing retiring Sen. Kent Conrad’s seat. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)

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FILE - In this March 31, 2012, file photo, Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., speaks before the North Dakota GOP Convention in Bismarck, N.D. Berg is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kent Conrad. North Dakota’s prosperity from an energy boom as the rest of the country slowly crawls out from under the economic wreckage of four years ago is making a contest of a Senate race that Democrats had all but conceded. A former state attorney general with ties to the energy industry, Heidi Heitkamp, may be the state’s only Democrat who can prevent the party from losing retiring Sen. Kent Conrad’s seat. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)

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** FILE ** In this March 31, 2012, photo, Rep. Rick Berg, North Dakota Republican, speaks before the North Dakota GOP Convention in Bismarck, N.D. Berg is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kent Conrad. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)

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"I know this is sort of geeky stuff, but the hard reality is that the amount of time it takes to put together these plans is really daunting. This takes weeks and weeks and months and months of effort, and that's why I think it's important to begin." - Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat

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ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a compromise plan to extend payroll tax cuts. "We should not have a tax increase on the middle class," Mr. Conrad says. [Mr. Reid's plan] will be paid for in a way that is credible and serious."

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ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad

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ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad

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ASSOCIATED PRESS Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, is preparing a fiscal plan that calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code but would leave Social Security untouched.

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (second from left), North Dakota Republican, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (second from right), Massachusetts Democrat, leave the Senate chamber at the Capitol Wednesday after voting on the spending bill. Late Wednesday, the Senate rejected competing Republican and Democratic spending bills. (Associated Press)

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**FILE** Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, presides at a Capitol Hill hearing on the national budget. The nation faces a possible government shutdown if Democrats and Republicans have not agreed by March 4 on an extension for funding the federal government. (Associated Press)

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Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat and Senate Budget Committee chairman, speaks about the Congressional Budget Office's economic outlook Wednesday during a news conference on Capitol Hill. (Associated Press)

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 7, 2011. Mr. Conrad said Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, he will not run for re-election in 2012. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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"We've got to have the leaders of the House and the Senate, Republican and Democrat, and the president or his representatives at the table," said Sen. Kent Conrad. (Associated Press)

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FOR IT: Sens. Kent Conrad (right), North Dakota Democrat, and Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican, the top two lawmakers on the president's deficit-reduction panel, endorsed its recommendations Wednesday.

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Debt Commission member, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., left , talks with co-chairmen Erskine Bowles, before a meeting of the commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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**FILE** Sen. Kent Conrad

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Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.