By sheer luck I happened to be attending a press roundtable with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi when the Whip notice announcing Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass their border supplemental hit reporters' inboxes. She had already answered multiple questions about that issue and was in the midst of a digression about congressional oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency when I saw the news, so I sat there twitching impatiently, until her spokesman, Drew Hammill, passed her a note, and a look combining relief and glee came over her face.
“They pulled the supp," Pelosi said. “They didn’t have the votes. It wasn’t even bad enough for them.” She picked up where she’d left off for all of a second, before adding, “Oh my god, it was so awful—thank God. But now we have to do something right.”
It’s possible House Republicans will get their act together in the hours or days ahead and mulligan this bill. House Speaker John Boehner’s goal has always been to pass something border-related with GOP votes while Republicans filibuster a Democratic alternative and thus jam the Senate with it. If that happens, Pelosi’s relief will be short-lived. But generally speaking, GOP leadership bills don’t recover once taken down by a hardline conservative-Democratic pincer movement. I don’t have anything in particular to add. It was just a glimpse of what it looks like when an opposition leader learns that she has regained some leverage.
Brian Beutler is a senior editor at The New Republic.