Cantor: Obama must take reconciliation off the table for healthcare reform

President Barack Obama must take a procedural maneuver to pass healthcare reform with a simple majority off the table, the second-ranking House Republican said Friday.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged Obama to reject using the budget reconciliation process to pass health reform, a tactic that would allow Democrats to finish health reform without any GOP support.

“If the president is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, he must take the reconciliation process — which will be used to jam through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want — off the table," Cantor said in a statement.

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The minority whip's remarks come in response to a New York Times report on Friday that the Obama administration is crafting a healthcare bill to unveil at next week's bipartisan summit at the White House, which envisions using the reconciliation process to finish reform.

Using reconciliation would allow the House and Senate to pass fixes to the health package approved by the Senate in December, and for senators to approve those changes with only a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes normally needed to end debate.

The maneuver would essentially foreclose the need for Republican input on health reform. Some House and Senate Democrats have also raised the specter of using the process to revive the public option, which was once thought dead.

Cantor said that the summit's purpose of renewing bipartisanship would essentially be dead if Democrats pursue reconciliation.

"By using the reconciliation process, the administration and Democrat leaders are sending a clear signal that they still refuse to listen to the American people and have no interest in bipartisanship," Cantor said. "To be certain, by using the reconciliation process, the administration makes clear that their promise of bipartisanship is dead."

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