Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters today in unequivocal terms that Democrats will use the so-called budget reconciliationp rocess to pass health care reform without Republicans if they can't get 60 votes.
"If we can't get the 60 votes we need, then we'll have no alternative," Reid said.
Reid was careful to insist that such a move would not be his preference and remains a last resort--but, he says, the process must keep moving forward.
Still, Reid remains confident that the 51-vote maneuver won't be necessary. "I'm certainly not over-confident, but I think there's a very good chance that we can get 60 votes," he noted.
While 60 votes may be possible, it may also be a ceiling of sorts. Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the plan emerging from the Senate Finance Committee, "I don't think that's a package that very many Republicans will support."
And over the weekend, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)--the second most moderate member of the Republican caucus, said that despite the preferences of her colleague Olympia Snowe, she would not support a health care bill that includes a triggered public option.