Washington (CNN) - Two moderate Democratic Senators facing re-election battles this year said Tuesday they would oppose using a legislative tool that requires only 51 Senate votes to get health care legislation to President Barack Obama's desk.
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, called the move, known as reconciliation, "ill-advised," while Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, issued a news release rejecting the procedure.
"I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans," Lincoln said in the statement.
Both the House and Senate have passed separate health care bills, entirely on support from Democrats.
Democratic leaders were working on merging the two bills, but the nation's political landscape changed last week when Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown to fill the Senate seat held by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy for almost 47 years until he died in August.
Brown's victory cost Democrats their 60-seat super-majority in the 100-member Senate necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster. The shift means Republicans can block Democratic initiatives such as health care reform.
Now Democratic leaders are working on a plan for the House to pass the Senate bill, along with a separate package of changes in the Senate plan that reflect compromise between the two chambers.
The package of changes would have to pass both the House and the Senate.
Without the 60-seat super-majority, Senate Democrats now are considering using the reconciliation tool that would require only 51 votes to pass the measure.
However, some Democrats in tough re-election fights worry voters will see that as legislative gimmickry, reinforcing complaints that Democratic control of Washington has been business as usual.
Bayh told CNN that using reconciliation "would destroy the opportunity, if there is one, for any bipartisan cooperation on anything else for the rest of the year."
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, dismissed opposition to using reconciliation as a way to get health care legislation to the president.
"I think reconciliation has been used effectively by both parties," Durbin said. "I wouldn't walk away from it. It's an option we should keep on the table."
Senate Democrats still have 59 votes in their caucus, meaning they could lose eight Democratic votes and still have the 51 needed to pass a health care package through reconciliation.
Still, Democratic sources warn that using reconciliation is complicated and fraught with legislative hurdles, raising questions about whether it could happen even if enough congressional Democrats supported the move.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, emerged from a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, late Tuesday and said they are making progress on "some kind of package," but reiterated that at this time "there are not the votes in the House, not anywhere near, to pass the Senate bill."
Earlier, Reid told reporters there is now "no rush" on health care.
Obama, who made health care his top domestic priority last year, will address the issue in his State of the Union Address on Wednesday, said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.