WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “time is up” for Congress to pass health-care legislation and that lawmakers in her chamber need to figure out the right policy, see what the Senate does, then decide how to vote.

“We all agree that the present system is unsustainable,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday on the ABC News “This Week” program. “What’s the point of talking about it any longer?”

President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders are trying to revive the administration’s top domestic priority after a year-long battle to pass a bill that polls show has become increasingly unpopular with the public. Obama signaled at a summit he sponsored on health-care overhaul with congressional leaders on Feb. 25 that he and fellow Democrats might press on without Republican support and risk the wrath of voters.

Obama and aides planned to work through the weekend and may add new proposals to a White House plan that relies mostly on a Senate bill passed in December, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

“I believe that we’re ready for the next step, which is to write legislative language, and then go from there,” Pelosi said on ABC.

The most likely path forward for Democrats is to use a process called reconciliation that is designed for budget-related legislation and only needs a majority vote in the Senate.

“The opportunity is there” to use reconciliation to move forward with the bill, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said on the “Fox News Sunday” program Sunday.

The Senate rules might require party leaders to slim down their legislation, and even then passage is not assured as Democrats in both the House and Senate object to using the procedure.

“It will take courage” to pass the overhaul, Pelosi said on ABC. “Whether we get Republican votes or not, the bill definitely has bipartisan provisions in it.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who is one of his party’s leaders in the health-care debate, said Democrats face a challenge passing the bill in the House. “Right now, they don’t have the votes,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., didn’t dispute such assessments, saying on the CBS “Face the Nation” program, “I don’t think we have the votes in terms of a specific proposal because there’s not a specific proposal on the table yet.”

“Within the next couple of weeks we are going to have a specific proposal and start counting votes.”

The House narrowly passed its version of a health-care bill in November, 220-215. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is part of Pelosi’s vote-counting team, said party leaders would be able to pass the measure. “When we start counting, the votes will be there,” she said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

In the Senate, most major bills usually need 60 out of 100 votes to pass instead of the 51 required under the reconciliation process. Obama and congressional Democrats appear intent “to go to the 51-vote rule,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who ran against Obama in the 2008 election, said on “Meet the Press.”

The public opposes the Democrats’ health-care bill and won’t support the use of reconciliation to pass it, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“The American people do not want us to use that kind of parliamentary device to jam this down their throats,” McConnell said.


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