Schumer hints at Dems using reconciliation on healthcare

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested on Tuesday that the lack of Republican support for Kathleen Sebelius' nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary is an early indication that the GOP may not be willing to work with Democrats on healthcare reform.

Schumer also hinted that such a lack of cooperation may force Democrats to pursue a budget reconciliation process on healthcare legislation. That would allow Democrats to circumvent having to get a 60 vote filibuster proof majority to pass reforms.

The Senate Finance Committee recommended Sebelius for the post on Tuesday in a nearly party line vote; two Republicans joined the Democrats.

After the vote, Schumer's office released the following tersely worded statement from the senator:

"I was surprised by the fact that so few Republicans supported a moderate, qualified candidate like Governor Sebelius," he said. "It's an ominous signal of the level of cooperation we can expect from the Republicans on health care. Maybe the Republicans are telling us they want us to pass healthcare reform through the budget reconciliation process."

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com