President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for Congress to decide upon health insurance reforms with an up-or-down vote in the next few weeks, the clearest indication yet that he favors passing a bill through the reconciliation process.
Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes, Obama in a speech at the White House.
And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Cobra health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts - all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority, he said.
The reconciliation process allows Congress to pass legislation without the 60 vote majority that overcomes delaying tactics known as filibusters.
Republicans are opposed to such a process.
Sen. Mitch McConnell has called this attempt a last-ditch plan to jam some version of their original bill through Congress and past the American people by way of the highly partisan process known as Reconciliation.
Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have previously said that the Americans are not interested in the process, but the result.
In his comments, Obama called for bringing the year-long debate to a close, saying every argument had been made.
The vote would pit Democrats' proposals for tighter industry regulation and expanded coverage for 30 million more people against Republican concerns about overregulation and a growing budget deficit.
So now is the time to make a decision, Obama said.
Republican leaders have asked that Congress start over, abandoning Democratic proposals for sweeping changes and taking a step-by-step approach.
I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform, Obama said.