As the deadline approaches for the Senate vote on healthcare reform, Democratic leaders have confirmed their plan to move forward on the bill using a fast-track legislative tactic known as budget reconciliation.
They have also said they will stop trying to work out a deal with Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) regarding federal funding for abortions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), made the reconciliation announcement—which will allow Democrats to pass the bill with 51 votes, instead of the usual threshold of 60—in his letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday.
“We will finish the job,” Reid said in the letter, adding that “we will do so by revising individual elements of the bills both houses of Congress passed last year, and we plan to use the regular budget reconciliation process that the Republican caucus has used many times.”
As federal funding for abortions remains a sticking point, and as the latest round of negotiations with the proponent of an amendment that would ban it have come to a naught, Democratic leaders have said they will no longer try to negotiate with Stupak.
Commentators have said this suggests the Democratic leadership believes there aren’t enough pro-life Democrats that will follow Stupak in voting against the bill, something the latter disputes.