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Pelosi Pushes Senate to Use Reconciliation

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday spoke in her clearest terms yet about the likelihood that Democrats will use reconciliation to get around a potential Senate GOP filibuster to pass health care reform.

“What you call a complicated process is called a simple majority and that’s what we’re asking the Senate to act upon,” Pelosi told reporters during a press conference.

Looking ahead to the coming weeks, Pelosi said Democrats will be focused on first “freezing the design on the substance” of a final health care plan and then looking to the Senate to see if they “accommodate the changes that the president has put forth” in his plan.

Democrats’ endgame for sending a health care bill to the president is coming into focus a day after the White House’s bipartisan health care summit, which produced little but has given new momentum to Democrats to move forward with Republicans.

Pelosi said she thinks there is “a good prospect” that the House will embrace President Barack Obama’s $950 billion health care plan, even though it is based on a Senate bill that many House Democrats opposed. She pointed to key changes that Obama made in his plan to bring House Democrats on board, namely by adding affordability provisions and dramatically scaling back an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans.

For now, however, the ball remains in the Senate’s court.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will talk to Democrats about Obama’s proposal and see “what he can get the votes for, and then we’ll go from there,” Pelosi said.

Obama signaled Thursday that he is only giving Republicans a matter of weeks to either find common ground with Democrats or stand back as they push through a final bill without GOP support. But a senior Democratic aide said Friday that Congressional leaders are not looking at a timeline for delivering a bill to the president’s desk.

Pelosi said Democrats are still receptive to GOP ideas but that they aren’t offering up anything new.

Republicans attending the health care summit “really didn’t have many other ideas except, ‘Let’s start over,’ ‘I don’t like the process,'” Pelosi said. “That wasn’t, shall we say, fertile territory for us to incorporate into what we are doing.”

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