President Barack Obama began a final push for healthcare reform yesterday, urging Congress to vote on the plan in the next few weeks even if it means passing the measure with a narrow Democratic majority and no Republican support.
The President opposed Republican calls to throw out wide-ranging bills passed by the House of Representatives and Senate last year and begin again with a more step-by-step approach. He said that Americans were waiting for the administration to lead, and backed the use of a tactic known as "reconciliation" as a way of overcoming rock-solid Republican opposition.
Reconciliation requires only a simple majority approval, instead of the usual 60 votes that are needed in the 100-member Senate chamber to overcome procedural hurdles. The Democrats lost their "supermajority" in a special election in January.
Republicans dismissed Mr Obama's remarks and said Democrats risked paying a price in mid-term congressional elections in November.