Washington (CNN) - A new poll suggests that a majority of Americans would oppose a move by Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary procedure called 'reconciliation' to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass their health care reform legislation by a simple majority vote.
A Gallup survey released Thursday morning indicates that 52 percent of the public opposes using reconciliation, with 39 percent favoring the move, and 9 percent unsure.
At Thursday's health care summit, in his opening remarks, Republican spokesman Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee urged the Democrats not to use reconciliation to ram the measure through Congress.
Alexander asked President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to "renounce this idea of going back to Congress, and jamming through a partisan vote through a little used process we call reconciliation your version of the bill. You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right. But it's never been used for anything like this. It's not appropriate to use (reconciliation) to write the rules for 17 percent of the economy."
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, admitted that Democrats did talk Wednesday morning about using "reconciliation" to move health care legislation.
Senate Majority Harry Reid also defended the tactic at Thursday's summit.
"Since 1981, reconciliation has been used 21 times and most of it has been used by Republicans, for major things like much of the Contract for America, medicare reform, the tax cuts for rich people in America. So reconciliation is not something that's never been done before," Reid said.
Reconciliation is a process, limited to budget-related bills, that bypasses the Senate rule on 60 votes being needed to end debate, known as cloture. By using reconciliation, only a majority vote would be needed to advance a bill. There are currently 57 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party in the Senate. Republican Scott Brown's victory in last month's special senate election in Massachusetts gave his party 41 votes in the chamber.
The Gallup poll was conducted Tuesday, with 1,009 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.