With the election of Scott Brown as the 41st Republican to prevent the full Senate from voting on health care reform, the Democrats are left with difficult choices to see their baby through.

Some bloggers have written of a secret deal between Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid by which the House would approve the Senate version and thus avoid any further filibuster-possible votes in the upper body, while the Senate would then use the reconciliation process to amend the Senate bill to satisfy House liberals.

With or without this secret plan, Democrats could indeed turn to the reconciliation process to pass some form of health care reform. Reconciliation, though it allows the Senate to pass measures with a simple majority vote and no possibility of a filibuster, does contain some stumbling blocks.

First, it must pertain solely to matters of the budget, which means that many parts of the reform bill could be challenged as non-budgetary.  This is called being given a "Byrdbath" after Senator Robert Byrd and his rule that reconciliation can be used solely for budget reasons.

Second, reconciliation bills expire after ten years, which is what the Bush tax cuts are set to do at the end of this year.

Third, of course, Democrats must weigh the public response. How dearly might it cost them in the November elections, or will it all be forgiven by then?

If something passes, it will carry with it many new forms of compliance for both individuals and businesses, so we’ll closely watch the proceedings and keep you informed.