Today, after the AHCA passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 217-213, Democrats on the House floor began to sing toward the House GOP. It was classless and not appropriate, but its meaning was not wrong. Democrats whose primary goal is to take back the House, could not be happier. By passing the AHCA, House Republicans had just made themselves more vulnerable in the 2018 midterm election.
While being “serenaded,” jubilant House Republicans boarded buses and headed to the White House for a celebratory Rose Garden appearance with President Trump. At this event, they clapped, cheered and gloated that they had done what they had promised to do for seven years: take action on Obamacare. There were handshakes, high fives and smiles as they and President Trump declared victory. At this point, Democrats could not believe their luck, as this Rose Garden celebration was a vacuous act of self-sabotage by House Republicans.
The optics were, for lack of a better term, absolutely awful. Veteran GOP operative Liz Mair observed on Twitter how these images would wind up in Democratic attack ads in 2018. To be honest, Mair is not wrong. There are plenty of GOP operatives who are very nervous now that the AHCA passed the House and Republicans celebrated.
If I were a House R, I’d be really concerned about the images of partying, jubilation today being used in attack ads against me.
— Liz Mair (@LizMair) May 4, 2017
Liz could not be more correct. Even if the AHCA fails in the Senate, Democrats are going to take these images of these GOP congressmen reveling and showing pride that the AHCA passed. These democratic operatives and candidates will push the message that right after voting to hurt millions of Americans, these Republican congressmen partied. The television ads, mailers, flyers, web ads, social media graphics, etc. will be effective and brutal.
The celebration of House Republicans was both in poor taste, as well as premature. The AHCA might have passed the House of Representatives, but it has yet to be even touched by the Senate. The bill is far from law, as whatever version of it the Senate passes, if they pass one at all, will likely be different than the version of the AHCA passed in the House. This would require the reconciliation process and another round of votes in the House and Senate. Should both chambers pass that, then it would head to President Trump to be signed into law.
In the Senate, the AHCA faces an uncertain future. Many GOP senators are already uncomfortable with it and considered “no votes” without significant changes to the deeply flawed bill. Senators Collins, Cassidy, Lee, Flake, Cruz, Sasse and Paul are all Republicans who are likely to express major reservations for varying reasons. As Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky made clear to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, he will need to see some big changes to the AHCA for him to support it.
Even if the Senate rejects the bill, House Republicans will be unable to escape their own self-inflicted wound of celebrating when the AHCA passed. It is a major gift to Democrats and their arsenal as they seek to retake the majority in the House of Representatives.
Instead of being calm, sober and collected when the AHCA passed the House of Representatives, the House GOP chose to be anything but. Now, they and the Republican Party itself will face the consequences. Democrats could not be happier.