Democrats remain close to passing health reform legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued Tuesday evening.

In a conference call with liberal bloggers and left-leaning media outlets, Pelosi said that the House and Senate would hammer out its differences on healthcare, but said that the Senate would have to move first before the House agrees to anything.

"The big question is whether we are going to pass comprehensive healthcare reform, and I believe we are very close to doing that," Pelosi said during the call, audio of which was posted by the blog Crooks and Liars

The speaker said, though, that both Houses would need to pass a "sidecar" bill that would make fixes to the original Senate bill before the House agrees to do anything else.


"What our members are saying is don't even ask us to consider passing the Senate bill until the other legislation has passed both houses, so that we're sure that it has happened and we know that what we are voting for would be affected by a reconciliation bill," she said.

In the scenario under consideration, the House would pass the Senate's bill for President Barack Obama's signature, but only if the Senate agreed to pass a series of fixes to their original bill through the budget reconciliation process, which would only a simple-majority vote for passage in the upper chamber.

Still, a number of hurdles remain in that process, including how Democrats would be able to overcome a loophole in reconciliation rules that would potentially allow the GOP to offer unlimited amendments. Some observers had expressed concern that the House and Senate couldn't pass a bill that makes changes to another piece of legislation that hasn't yet become law.

Pelosi rejected that latter hurdle on Tuesday. "It is not an obstacle to this path forward, no," she said.

The speaker maintained that she didn't have the votes for the Senate bill as-is though, and said that while the House and Senate had been inching toward an agreement before Republicans won in the Massachusetts special election, each chamber had its own institutional responsibilities now.

"I'm not in a position to be suggesting what they should do," she said of the Senate. "I have to do what I have to do to have 218 votes. They have to do what they have to do to get whatever they need to move the process along."

Listen to the audio of the call, captured by Crooks and Liars, below: