Democrats Prepare for Plan B: Passing Senate Bill in House, Then Through Reconciliation

Democratic House Leaders Pelosi and Hoyer indicate it's time to move forward.

February 28, 2010, 5:09 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2010— -- Democrats say the time for debate on health care is over, and Republicans must either sign up or step aside.

"Time's up, yes. So we really have to go forth," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today on ABC's "This Week." "What's the point of talking about it any longer?

These latest comments come after President Obama hosted a seven-hour health care summit with Republican and Democrat members of the House and Senate expressing their ideas on health care reform.

Yet Republicans remain firm on their call for Democrats to scrap the health care overhaul legislation that passed the House and Senate late last year and start over.

"I think it was a good forum. I think that the American people learned something and I hope that it could be the basis for us to have some serious negotiations. But we still have the fundamental problem," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Do we go on the partisan plan that was rammed through the Senate and the House, or do we start over from the beginning?" McCain asked.

Democrat leaders are making plans to pass the Senate health care bill in the House, and then approve a separate package of changes using reconciliation -- a legislative process whereby members of the House and Senate could pass bills by a simple majority of members.

However, this isn't an easy proposition. There are some House Democrats who don't like the Senate bill. Some say it's too expensive, others want tougher language to prevent federal funding of abortion.

Nonetheless, House Leader Steny Hoyer said Democrats would start counting votes in the House in "next couple of weeks."

"I would think within the next couple of weeks, we're going to have a specific proposal and start counting votes to see whether or not those proposals can pass either the House or the Senate or both and send something to the president," Hoyer said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Sen. Alexander: Reconciliation a Political Kamikaze Mission

And even if Democrats get the votes. Republicans say using the reconciliation process could backfire.

"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-M.D., said on CBS.

"It would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on ABC.

White House officials say the president is expected to make a public appearance this week when he will outline the next steps on health care reform as he sees them.

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