Dems Seek to Use Reconciliation for HC Bill

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WASHINGTON - President Obama is likely to make his final version of a health care reform bill public soon, possibly incorporating ideas Republicans pushed during last week's forum.

Without at least a couple of Republican converts in the House voting for health care reform, it looks exceedingly tough to pass a plan there.

Obama wants the House to pass a bill similar to the Senate version of health care. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs 216 votes to do that.

When the House voted last year on its own version, it passed with 220 votes, but since then two backers have quit Congress.

That would still leave 216, but pro-life House Democrats will likely refuse to vote for the Senate version because it could fund abortions with tax dollars.

The bill is also unpopular with the public. Analysts predict several other backers will bail in the next vote, rather than face angry Americans in their home state.

"It would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through," said GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander.

But Speaker Pelosi says House Democrats should be willing to lose their jobs over a cause like health care reform.

"Why are we here? We're not here just to self perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people."

It appears the only way Senate Democrats can pass health care reform is by using "reconciliation"-- a strategy that would avoid a Republican filibuster and let a simple majority of 51 votes pass health care.

The tactic infuriates Republicans.

"If you use reconciliation on this health care bill, as we see today, what you're going to have is a thumbing of the nose at the American people," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) warned.

Even Democrat strategists agree their politicians are playing on the razor's edge trying to pass health care reform.

"If it goes down, it's going to be a simple statement. 'The Democrats can't govern-- How can you trust them to do anything else?'" said Democrat strategist James Carville said.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at