Bayh unlikely to support reconciliation to pass healthcare

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) told reporters on Tuesday that he would not support Senate Democrats' push to use reconciliation to pass their healthcare reform bill.

Bayh said that approach -- which would allow Democrats to skirt the 60-vote process that proved painstaking in 2009 -- would be "ill-advised."

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The centrist Democrat also urged his party's leaders on Tuesday to reconsider the healthcare legislation that cleared the Senate Finance Committee last year.

That bill, which managed to win Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) early support, had simply been "discarded" for unclear reasons, he said.

"I don't know at this point, there are nothing but difficult decisions to be made...," Bayh said of the current state of the healthcare debate, before repeating his support for the Senate Finance Committee bill.

"There was at least some Republican support for that approach. ... maybe we should take another look at that," he said. "If Sen. Snowe was willing to vote for it, perhaps there were other Republicans who were willing to."

The healthcare debate remains at a crossroads this week, following the election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown as Republicans' 41st senator.

While Democrats once hoped to skirt their loss of supermajority in the Senate by passing the upper chamber's bill as-is in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged last week she did not have the votes to do it.

Reconciliation is one alternative for the healthcare bill. Senate Democrats could pass a revised proposal using the tough budget procedure, provided a majority of House Democrats and at least 51 Senate Democrats support the new bill. But even the prospects for that route seem unclear at the moment -- a reality Democratic leaders have openly acknowledged.