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Dems to use reconciliation for healthcare

April 25, 2009 at 11:56 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Democrats have agreed to use a special process to pass sweeping healthcare reform without any Republican votes if need be, sources say.

The arcane parliamentary process known as budget reconciliation allows legislation tied to the budgeting process to be passed with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote majority needed to block filibusters. Senior Democrats have agreed to use the process to pass President Barack Obama's ambitious healthcare reform measures over Republican objections if a bipartisan agreement can't be forged by September, unnamed congressional officials told Saturday's Los Angeles Times.

Use of the reconciliation process would allow Democrats, who hold 58 seats in the Senate, to pass the measures without a single GOP vote. Even though Republican leaders have warned Democrats against using the tactic and others say it may hinder future legislation where bipartisan consensus is needed, Obama Thursday reiterated his support for the move in a meeting with congressional leaders, White House and Capitol Hill sources told the Times.

The president and his congressional allies believe using the budget reconciliation process to pass healthcare reform may be the only way to implement measures that have eluded lawmakers for years, the newspaper said.

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