Health care reform battle begins

 While congressional Democrats easily passed the most expensive budget in history Thursday, the real fight now begins over whether leaders will try to ram through health care reforms or seek bipartisan support for one of the Obama administration’s key priorities.
When Congress returns from its two-week spring break in mid-April, House and Senate Democrats will hammer out a final compromise of the chambers’ budget plans.
And one of the most difficult decision negotiators will face is whether to bypass regular legislative rules to allow health care reform to pass the Senate by a simple majority using a fast-track procedure called “reconciliation.”
“I hope we don’t have to use it, and I hope it encourages Republicans to come to the table and offer real ideas and accept some they don’t like, because that’s what compromise is about,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat from Ohio. “If they don’t cooperate enough, then we go through reconciliation.”
The procedure would eliminate the filibuster and allow legislation to pass with only a simple majority, not the three-fifths supermajority needed to end a filibuster. Democrats have 58 seats – a comfortable margin, but two seats short of the 60-seat supermajority.

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