Cheers went out from the Democratic cloakroom Friday when the news broke that Republicans were pulling their health care bill from the floor, and Democrats on the floor chanted “vote! vote!” as the majority lacked the votes opted to pass it.
The minority party was more subdued at a press conference afterward, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team still delighted in their victory.
“We proudly do,” Pelosi said in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that she and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer now own the 2010 health care law that the Republican bill sought to partially dismantle.
“Did he blame us for the defeat?” Pelosi said, laughing.
Schumer said that he hoped Trump and Republican leaders would learn from the health care experience, particularly with the upcoming need to fund the government.
“They’ve got to reexamine how they’re trying to govern,” Schumer said, saying that Trump’s budget proposal and supplemental spending requests would face similar complications. “They can’t govern from an ideological perspective.”
Other Democratic members — even ones new to the party and Congress — expressed disbelief at how the legislative process fell apart at the last possible minute.
“Wow, oh wow,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, a freshman Florida Democrat who used to be a Republican.
A staffer in earshot muttered, “Aren’t you glad you switched parties?”
But Rep. Ruben Gallego wasn’t convinced this would be the end of efforts to repeal and replace parts of the 2010 health care law.
“We’re on guard,” the Arizona Democrat said about concerns another health measure could resurface. “Crazy times.”
While Democrats do maintain they would like to see improvements to the existing health care law, they vehemently opposed the changes Republicans were seeking and blamed Republicans for jamming through the process in the House.
Republicans stung by Friday's events warned Democrats not to get too comfortable.
“I don’t think a lot of them are going to sleep well tonight,” Colorado Republican Mike Coffman said of Democrats. “There are people who say this is a political victory but let me tell you, if you’re a Democrat, you would hope that today would mark the first day that the Republicans own this whole thing, and now they still own it!”
But for Pelosi and her troops, that seems to sit just fine for now.