The White House declined to say on Tuesday whether it would support the use of a parliamentary maneuver to pass a health care in the Senate on a 50, as opposed to 60-vote margin. If anything, spokesman Robert Gibbs stressed, it was "always" the president's preference to get legislation passed by regular order.
Gibb's remarks followed earlier comments by two major White House allies -- former Majority Leader Tom Daschle and John Podesta, the head of the presidential transition -- who both insisted that the use of reconciliation to pass health care should be on the table.
"I would not hesitate to use it," Daschle said on Monday.
"There is a point at which you have to move on," said Podesta. And at that point, he said, reconciliation, which eliminates the use of the filibuster by Republicans, should come into play.
Asked on Tuesday if he agreed with Daschle and Podesta, Gibbs refused to talk legislative strategy. "Again, I think that gets a great deal ahead of where we are in the process," he replied. "I think the president has confidence in the system working, in ... the steps many committees are taking to work amongst themselves to find a legislative solution. Obviously I think having the ability, having lots of different avenues to take, gives Congress an understanding of how serious the problem is."
Pressed on whether he thought, as Podesta implied, that Republicans in the Senate were asking too much from the White House in a health care compromise, Gibbs again declined to draw "bright lines."
"The process continues," he said. "The president and the administration feel good about the progress ... and will continue to work in that system to find a solution to that problem." The president always prefers passing legislation via regular order as opposed to reconciliation, Gibbs said.
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