Pelosi: Dems will continue healthcare bill merger talks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that leaders are still trying to merge the House and Senate healthcare bills amid rumors that the talks may be abandoned.

Pelosi today refused to directly address reports that the White House and Democratic allies were contemplating passing the Senate bill verbatim through the House. 

"Regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, we still have to resolve our two bills," she said at a press conference after a meeting with Democratic leaders. "Our eye is on the ball of passing legislation. In order to do that we have to resolve some differences, establish some priorities and make some decisions."

Democratic leaders have reportedly been weighing for alternative options in case Republican Scott Brown wins Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts. Brown has said join a GOP filibuster of the health bill, depriving Democrats of their 60 vote supermajority.

Pelosi's words, which were echoed by Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), come as Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that leaders are considering using the controversial budget reconciliation maneuver to pass the legislation, which requires only a simple majority of 51 senators.

The speaker did not say whether or not her leadership has discussed the process.