By Jonathan D. Salant
Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Even if Democrats lose the special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator Tuesday, Congress may still pass health-care overhaul through a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.
That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.
“Even before Massachusetts and that race was on the radar screen, we prepared for the process of using reconciliation,” Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said.
“Getting health-care reform passed is important,” Van Hollen said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “Reconciliation is an option.”
Should Democrats take that route, the legislation would have to be scaled back because of Senate rules.
He also said he expects Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley to win in Massachusetts.