The setback, described in interviews with multiple senior administration and congressional officials, was especially humiliating because Trump was sunk not by Democrats but by his inability to ride herd over the same rebellious element of the Republican conference that previously bucked Speaker Paul Ryan’s predecessor John Boehner out of his job. Most House Republicans have never served in the majority under a Republican president and it’s unclear how in the future they will cobble together a governing coalition.
“The Republican Party is still operating as an opposition party,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who added, “If they can’t break the fever…it says an enormous amount about the prospects of tax reform, infrastructure and some sort of immigration proposal.”
Trump himself seemed almost relieved to move on from the health care fight, even as other White House officials were fretting about the long-term implications of what one senior White House official called a “clear embarrassment for us.”
The president himself wasn’t nearly as upset about the health care defeat as he was about the size of his inauguration crowds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election or the repeated legal setbacks on his travel-ban executive order, which has been blocked by multiple courts. “No bullshit, I think he’s actually pretty comfortable with the outcome. He wants to move ahead and do taxes,” another senior White House official said.