Americans don't have a high level in interest in how healthcare reform is passed, President Barack Obama said Thursday.
Obama deflected Republicans' criticism that the use of a procedural tactic that would sidestep the Senate's filibuster rules to pass a healthcare bill would somehow be unfair or hyperpartisan.
"I think the American people aren't always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate," Obama said during this afternoon's bipartisan White House summit on health reform.
But Obama seemed to endorse the use of budget reconciliation to pass healthcare reform. The reconciliation rules bypass the 60-vote threshold usually needed to end a filibuster in the Senate, and allow senators to pass legislation with a majority vote.
"I do think that they want a vote," Obama said. "And I think most Americans think a majority vote makes sense."
Democratic leaders have signaled openness to using the process, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) having made the case that the process is hardly rare, having been used 22 times since 1980.
Republicans, for their part, complain that the process has never been used to advance legislation of this size and magnitude.
Still, the president left open the door to a solution being reached that would avoid the process, which would force Democrats to go-it-alone on their health reform plans.
"But I also think the issue could be bridged if we could agree on a way to move forward," he said.
Update, 4:26 p.m.: Senate Republicans point to a poll showing 52 percent of Americans shouldn't use the reconciliation process to pass healthcare, if it comes to that.