Congressional Democrats, on the defensive for months on federal spending issues, see an opportunity to seize the political initiative by pushing to the forefront a House Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.

In a sign of the his party’s emboldened posture, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Wednesday he would soon bring the House measure to a Senate vote.

The point would be to challenge Republicans in the chamber to embrace the proposal to end Medicare’s benefit guarantees for people currently younger than 55.

“Let’s find out how people really feel about it,” Mr. Reid said in a conference call with reporters, signaling that he expected the plan to be defeated in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

The Medicare proposal is part of a budget blueprint that was embraced by nearly all Republicans in a House vote earlier this month.

Republican leaders say the Medicare plan has been the target of scare tactics and exaggerations.

The budget debate is taking place in tandem with discussions about the federal debt ceiling, which administration officials say must be raised by Congress in the next month or so.

Republicans have said they don’t want to raise the government’s borrowing limit without also taking steps to curb spending. Many Democrats have argued that the debt-limit increase shouldn’t be linked to deficit-reduction measures, but some kind of pairing has become increasingly likely.

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