White House won’t rule out budget reconciliation rules on healthcare

President Barack Obama is hopeful that the Senate will pass a healthcare bill with 60 votes, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs held out the possibility that budget reconciliation rules could still be used.

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He said Senate leaders and the White House would turn to those rules, which would prevent the Senate from needing to secure 60 votes for procedural steps, only if they are not making progress.

As long as “we continue to make progress, then we don't see any need to change the process,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs was then asked what the White House would do if progress is halted in the Senate.

“Then we'll look at alternatives,” Gibbs said.

The Democrats will have to pull all 58 of their members along with the two independents who caucus with the party to win 60 votes on procedure, assuming Republicans vote against them.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has warned he will vote against legislation that includes a public health insurance option.

Gibbs said the president was thrilled by Saturday's House passage of the bill despite the narrow margin, but he acknowledged that with Senate consideration and conference committee still looming “we have miles to go before we sleep.”