By Mike Lillis - 04/25/13 09:30 PM EDT
Pelosi, who shepherded the bill through the House as Speaker, rejected the idea that the legislation contributed to any Democratic losses. But if it did, she added, it was a small price to pay for the expansion of healthcare coverage the law features.
"I do not subscribe to the notion that we did not win the election because of the healthcare bill," Pelosi said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "If we did, for tens of millions of Americans to have healthcare was well worth any of our political careers, in my view."
After many months of contentious debate, the Democrats passed their sweeping healthcare reform proposal in early 2010, and Obama signed it into law shortly afterwards.
Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for the bill, and the GOP was quick to demonize the reforms on the campaign trail. The Republicans said the law – which promotes universal healthcare coverage by requiring most Americans to purchase insurance or face a financial penalty – represents a government intrusion on personal freedoms and private markets.
Eight months after the bill became law, Democrats were clobbered at the polls, losing 63 House seats and sending the Speaker's gavel back to the GOP after just four years in the majority.
Republicans claimed the election results were a public rebuke of the Democrats' policy priorities, most significantly the healthcare law. Democrats countered that voters were simply frustrated by the economic downturn and took it out on the party in power.
Pelosi's comments suggest that debate has not been resolved.