Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has questioned Democrats' timing in passing health reform
Rep. Nancy Pelosi counters that Democrats also focused on the economy
Pelosi to CNN: "We come here to do a job, not keep a job"
Nancy Pelosi says there are 14 million reasons why Chuck Schumer is wrong.
In an intraparty feud about political strategy, the House minority leader on Tuesday called out the No. 3 Senate Democratic leader for saying that it was a mistake for Democrats to focus on passing health care reform in 2010.
“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Schumer said in a remarks focused on political messaging heading into 2016 at the National Press Club.
New York’s Schumer added, “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem – health care reform.”
When asked whether she agreed with Schumer’s assessment, California’s Pelosi didn’t mince words in a written statement provided to CNN.
“We come here to do a job, not keep a job. There are more than 14 million reasons why that’s wrong,” Pelosi said.
The 14 million figure Pelosi cites references those Americans who now have health care coverage since the law was enacted.
It adds together those who have signed up through health care exchanges, those allowed to say on their parent’s health care plans through age 26 and those getting coverage through the expansion of the Medicaid program.
Pelosi’s office also maintained that the Affordable Care Act has had a positive economic effect in terms of bending the cost curve over the long term.
They also took issue with the notion that the House, under Pelosi’s speakership, wasn’t focused on the economy after Obama was elected. An aide noted that the House passed a jobs bill the Democratic-led Senate did not take up, and the original version of the stimulus bill the House passed was larger than the final version the Senate approved.
Later Tuesday, an White House official also weighed in.
As did a couple of former White House officials.
An aide to Schumer said the New York Democrat has hinted at this concern in the past.
Schumer supported the Affordable Care Act, but from a political timing standpoint, he thought the party could have done other things before turning to health care. But in moving to stake out the party’s message going forward, Schumer put himself at odds with Pelosi, who was one of the fiercest champions of passing the legislation through the House in 2010.
The controversial bill passed without a single Republican vote, and the House GOP filed a lawsuit last week to challenge President Barack Obama’s authority to make changes to the law.
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report