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After healthcare summit: Is reconciliation next?

Republicans said after the healthcare summit that Obama and the Democrats appear ready to go it alone on healthcare. That means resorting to a process called reconciliation, which allows measures to pass by a simple majority.

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Proposed health reform legislation documents are pictured on a table between Republican congressmen David Camp (L) and Joe Barton during a bipartisan health reform summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and lawmakers at Blair House in Washington, Thursday.

Jason Reed/AP

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So, what’s next?

After a day-long White House summit on healthcare, Republicans returning to the Senate said that President Obama and the Democrats appear ready to go it alone on this issue.

“They’re not interested in putting a 2,700-page bill on the shelf,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, referring to GOP demands that the president start over with a step-by-step approach, focusing on issues on which there is broad agreement.

At the end of the summit, Mr. Obama said, “I did not propose something complicated just for the sake of being complicated.” He added, “The reason we didn’t do it is it turns out baby steps don’t get you to the place where people need to go.”

To get a bill without 41 Senate Republicans means resorting to a process called reconciliation. The process allows measures that meet certain budget criteria to pass by a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes now typical for major bills.

In the dictionary, “reconciliation” means bringing together, conciliation, or fence mending. But on the floor of the US Senate, it’s pure procedural warfare.

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