WASHINGTON --Top congressional Democrats stood by President Barack Obama and the flawed rollout of the government's health care website Sunday, expressing confidence the problems would be fixed and the issue would not drag down the party in next year's mid-term elections.
"I don't think you can tell what will happen next year, but I will tell you this: Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Ms. Pelosi played down Friday's defection of 39 House Democrats who voted to help pass a Republican bill, opposed by the White House, to address the millions of people facing cancellation of their health insurance policies. The bill, which passed on a vote of 261-157, would allow insurers to continue selling individual policies that do not meet new federal standards under the law.
The number of Democrats who defied Mr. Obama and House Democratic leaders on the vote was about the same as those who have joined with Republicans on other bills to alter the health care law, Ms. Pelosi said. On one such vote in July, to delay the employer mandate in the law, 35 Democrats joined with Republicans.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the assistant House Democratic leader, said many of his colleagues who voted for the Republican bill Friday did so to protect themselves politically.
"Maybe nine people had real serious concerns," Mr. Clyburn said on CNN's "State of the Union. "The fact of the matter is, about 30 of them, and I've talked to them, were insulating themselves against sound bites."
Mr. Clyburn criticized the legislation because it would allow insurers to continue to sell what he called "substandard" and "junk" policies.