Several congressional sources say reconciliation -- or forcing legislation though on a simple majority -- is off the table because it would mean having to start over and could risk losing some Democratic moderates, which in turn could cost Democrats the bill altogether. But a few Democrats have suggested that reconciliation is a viable option.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Monday, "Let's remove all doubt, we will have health care -- one way or another."
Another option: The House could pass the Senate version of the health care bill verbatim, which would send the legislation to the president's desk without protracted negotiations.
"Whether there are 59 seats in the Senate or 60, we still have to work hard to get our economy back on track," Gibbs said Tuesday. "We still have to work hard to make the promise of affordable, accessible health care for millions of Americans a reality."
Meanwhile, public support for the president and Democrats' plan to overhaul the health care system continues to wane.
In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 51 percent of Americans said they oppose health care overhaul efforts, with only 44 percent in favor.
At its peak, in September and again in November, 30 percent of Americans "strongly" backed the proposed changes. With the plan still undergoing modifications, that has dropped to 22 percent, a new low. Substantially more, 39 percent, are "strongly" opposed, a number that's held steadier.
Brown, 50, will become the 41st Republican in the Senate after he's sworn in in the coming days.
The state senator, lawyer and former model is married to Gail Huff, a reporter at the Boston ABC affiliate and former co-host of a parenting show on the Lifetime television network, and has a daughter, Ayla, who was a semi-finalist on "American Idol" in 2006.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said he would notify the Senate today that Brown had been elected, even though he had said earlier it could take more than two weeks to certify the special-election results.
Brown's counsel delivered a request to Galvin for an unofficial vote count and the number of outstanding absentee ballots.
"I'm confident that it will show the margin of victory exceeds the amount of outstanding absentee ballots," Brown said. "And since the election is not in doubt, I'm hopeful that the Senate will seat me on the basis of unofficial returns just as they did for Ted kennedy in 1962."
Reid said Tuesday that Brown would be seated "as soon as the proper paperwork has been received."
A delay could give Democrats time to try to push through final passage of Obama's health care plan, although some have suggested that Brown's victory should put the process on hold.
"In many ways, the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process," Virginia Democrat Sen. Jim Webb said in a statement.
"To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until senator-elect Brown is seated."
While many Democrats deny that the Massachusetts race is a preview of what's to come in the November general election, Republicans say the symbolism of Brown's victory is hard to deny.