Gregg suggests Obama may renege on fixing Senate health bill

The White House may renege on passing fixes to the Senate's healthcare bill once the House has passed it, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) claimed Thursday.

Gregg, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, suggested that President Barack Obama may back off making changes to the Senate bill through the reconciliation process, which the White House and the Senate have said they would use to make changes to the Senate bill in order to placate House members.

"They're using reconciliation to pass the great big bill," Gregg said during an appearance on CNBC. "Once they pass the great big bill, I wouldn't be surprised if the White House didn't care if reconciliation passed. I mean, why would they?"

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Gregg was a onetime pick to become Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration before withdrawing, though it's unclear if the New Hampshire Republican has any inside knowledge of the situation.

House Democrats had demanded the Senate take up a series of fixes to its original reconciliation bill, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying she wouldn't have the votes to pass the Senate health bill without a guarantee of fixes.

Those fixes would be passed through the budget reconciliation process, allowing Senate Democrats to pass the fixes with a majority vote instead of the 60 votes normally needed to end a filibuster.

"If you're in the House and you're saying, 'Well, I'm going to vote for this because I'm going to get a reconcilation bill,' I would think twice about that," Gregg said. "First because, procedurally, it's going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I'm not sure there's going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people."

"In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don't need it," he said.