Liberal group calls on Dems to pass healthcare bill using reconciliation

A liberal activist group on Tuesday night circulated a petition calling on congressional Democrats to pass healthcare reform using the controversial budget reconciliation tactic.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) launched the effort after Republican Scott Brown was declared the winner of Massachusetts special Senate election to, giving the GOP its 41st vote to filibuster the healthcare overhaul.

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"The loss of Ted Kennedy's seat -- due to a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats and Independents -- sends a clear message to Congress," the petition reads. "The Senate health care bill is not the change we were promised in 2008, and it must be improved. The Senate must use 'reconciliation' to pass a better bill with a strong public option."

Using the budget reconciliation has been one alternative method Democrats have reportedly considered after Brown was shown with a lead in the polls in the past few days.

The process would allow Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority and with limited floor debate. But parliamentarians could object to provisions of the bill on grounds that they are not related to the budget and potentially break up the bill.

Brown's victory strips the Democrats of their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, but it remains to be seen when the election results will be certified and when he will be seated.

Democrats held a caucus meeting Tuesday night in part to discuss alternative scenarios should Brown win the race. 

Some Democratic lawmakers before the meeting suggested that their party could resort to using the process.

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