A victory by Republican Scott Brown in the dogfight to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts would take away from Senate Democrats the critical 60th vote to thwart GOP filibusters and advance the legislation.
Among the scenarios: Asking House Democrats to approve the Senate version of the bill, sending it directly to President Barack Obama for his signature, sources told The New York Times Tuesday. House Democratic leaders said, however, no final decision would be made until they talk with their caucus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said negotiations on the legislation would continue even while recognizing the outcome the Massachusetts race could require a sudden change in plans.
"Certainly the dynamic will change depending on what happens in Massachusetts," Pelosi acknowledged Monday. "Just the question of how we would proceed. But it doesn't mean we won't have a healthcare bill."
White House officials and congressional leaders have been working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who opposes the Senate bill because of language on insurance coverage for abortions, told the Times the House would not support the Senate bill. Besides the abortion language, Stupak said the Senate bill didn't go far enough to improve the quality of healthcare and preserved a federal antitrust exemption for health insurance, which would be repealed under the House version.
"Why would any House member vote for the Senate bill, which is loaded with special interest provisions for certain states?" Stupak said. "That's not healthcare."