Commentary: On the brink of health care overhaul

They can smell it. They can taste it. They, being the Capitol Hill Democrats who are attempting to jockey health care reform down the home stretch to passage. What a monumental achievement it would be, and the nation will be a better place if they succeed.

A Republican phalanx, however, stands firm in trying to block the reform legislation and deny victory to the Democrats and President Obama. Enough Democrats feel vulnerable to the Republicans' barbs that their leaders are taking extraordinary steps to give them cover.

Already, because their Senate majority is one vote short of what's needed to stop a GOP filibuster, the Democrats are resorting to an arcane "reconciliation" maneuver to make changes in the main bill without bringing the bill to another Senate vote.

But there's another strategy in the works on the House side that makes reconciliation look as straightforward as falling off a log. The idea would be to let the reform bill be "deemed" to have passed - without members actually having to vote for it.

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