Democrats may push health care bill sans Republican support
20 August 2009
The US administration is looking hard at pushing through president Barack Obama's much hyped health care reform bill without Republican backing, after seeing little chance of bipartisan support, CNN quoted White House sources as saying.
The strategy shift would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes, which could help Obama meet his goal of getting a final measure by year's end.
Other parts of the plan would be put to a separate vote in the Senate, including the requirement that Americans have health insurance. This portion has already drawn some Republican support.
The Democratic majority in the Senate has been stymied in the health care debate by Republicans and conservative Democrats, leaving it short of the 60-vote margin needed to pass the bill.
Democratic success could depend on an obscure tactic called reconciliation, a type of budget manoeuvre that requires only a simple majority - 51 votes - to pass.
The plan, unveiled in July, calls for the most comprehensive US health-care expansion in four decades that will require the wealthiest Americans shoulder the bulk of the financial burden for health care reforms (See: US government plans tax on wealthy Americans to foot health-care costs).
But moving ahead on a more partisan basis might ultimately be a strategy Democrats are willing to employ.