Congress makes health care top priority

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“I think we believe, along what Democrats believe, that all Americans should have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance,” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program. But “we’re not for a plan that puts the government in charge of our health care, decides what doctors ought to be paid or what treatments ought to be prescribed.”

Another difficult decision Democratic leaders 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.”

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.

House Democratic leaders for weeks have insisted that keeping the fast-track option open is essential to avoid Republican obstructions on health care legislation.

Republicans have likened the use of reconciliation to an “act of war.”

But Democrats say such talk is hypocritical, pointing out that Republicans frequently used reconciliation when they had control of Congress.

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