updated 3/18/2010 3:06:27 PM ET 2010-03-18T19:06:27

Republicans have lost an effort to force House Democrats to hold a direct vote on the health overhaul bill.

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Democrats want to use a special procedure that would let the House automatically approve the $940 billion measure when lawmakers vote to begin debating a separate proposal that would revise that big health bill.

Democratic leaders hope this maneuver would ease the political pain for lawmakers hesitant about voting directly on the giant health legislation — which the Senate has approved.

Republicans tried to block that move, but Democrats in the House prevailed by a 222-203 vote on Thursday.

The House is set to debate the health bill on Sunday.

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