Associated Press--House and Senate Democrats intend to bypass traditional procedures when they negotiate a final compromise on health care legislation, officials said Monday, a move that will exclude Republican lawmakers and reduce their ability to delay or force politically troubling votes in both houses...Both houses have already passed legislation to remake the health care system...There are literally hundreds of differences between the two bills, a House measure that ran to 1,990 pages and a Senate version of 2,074, not counting 383 pages of last-minute changes. The biggest differences involve a dispute over a government-run insurance option — the House wants one, but the Senate bill omitted it — as well as the size and extent of federal subsidies to help lower-income families afford coverage...
Bypassing a formal conference committee enables Democrats to omit time-consuming procedural steps in the Senate and prevents Republicans from trying to delay the final negotiations. Under Senate rules, three separate votes are required before negotiators for the two houses may hold a formal meeting. While the three normally are agreed to within seconds, each may be filibustered, and Democrats would then have to produce 60 votes to cut off debate.
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