There is talk on Capitol Hill that Democrats in both the House and Senate will seek to merge their separate health care reform bills. They are discussing the possibility of bypassing a formal conference committee and instead working out an informal agreement between top Democrats as a way to avoid further parliamentary delays by Senate Republicans. Senate Democrats are well aware that unified Republican opposition to their health care bill makes it an imperative for the House to accept the Senate bill more or less whole.
The House has yet to agree to an informal conference process, partly because it could give the chamber less leverage. It is expected the House will call up the Senate-passed version of the health care bill and add new compromise language via an amendment. The bill would then go back to the Senate to be cleared. Meetings later this week will help House Republicans focus on their strategy on health care reform.