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Will healthcare reform nix any Senate bipartisanship on other bills?

GOP senators who have been willing to work openly with Democrats say that the process for healthcare reform could end the prospects for bipartisanship elsewhere. Possibly at stake in the Senate: comprehensive immigration reform and financial regulation.

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Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd (D) spoke at a briefing Thursday after he halted bipartisan talks on financial regulatory overhaul and set forth plans to move forward on his own.

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

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Democrats have found very few Republicans to work with since taking back control of Congress in 2007.

But GOP senators who have been willing to work with Democrats openly on big bills say that a bid to move healthcare with only Democratic votes will end bipartisan prospects for other legislation.

After a meeting with President Obama on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina said that healthcare could sink prospects for comprehensive immigration reform.

“I expressed, in no uncertain terms, my belief that immigration reform could come to a halt for the year if health care reconciliation goes forward,” he said in a statement.

Reconciliation is a procedure that allows legislation to pass with a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes now typical for major bills in the Senate. With the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts, the Democratic caucus has 59 members – one short of the count needed to end a Republican filibuster.

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