Media reports suggest Democrats in Congress are preparing to invoke special rules that require only a simple majority vote to push through upcoming education and healthcare reform bills.
According to TheHill.com, Democratic Senator Robert Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is planning to use the reconciliation procedure to go around a possible Republican obstruction when presenting legislation that would end the Federal Family Education Loan program, which offers subsidies to student loan companies.
Democratic lawmakers also paved the way for the use of the special procedure to vote on the comprehensive healthcare reform bill when the Ways and Means Committee approved the measure last week.
Committee chairman Charlie Rangel of New York said that the "action was necessary because there is a possibility that a handful of Senate Republicans could choose to engage in partisan tactics to stall this important health reform bill," quoted by FoxNews.
Reconciliation is a legislative process intended to allow a contentious budget bill to be considered without being subject to filibuster. Under its rules, only the simple majority of 51 votes, rather than 60, is required for the bill to pass.