"I am surprised that so many Democrats who supported an extension of these very same provisions last Congress suddenly changed their votes," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "President Obama supports a reauthorization of these important national security tools. And the House bill provides Congress with the opportunity to engage in a thorough review of the provisions as we consider a longer reauthorization. It's unfortunate that partisan politics seems to have prevented so many Democrats from doing what's best for America's national security."
GOP aides, however, were pointing the finger at House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Aides said McCarthy failed to whip the vote, which led to the embarrassment of the bill falling short and leaders being caught off guard.
For Democrats, it was an opportunity for a little payback, to bloody the noses of the House's new GOP managers.
But the vote also demonstrated the impact of the House losing so many of its more centrist Democrats. Some of those who were defeated in the mid-terms or retired would have likely provided the necessary votes to pass the extension. But they weren't there.
Instead, the House Democrats who remain are more liberal. And they could hardly contain their joy at the House leadership's failure to pass the bill.
Veteran Democratic Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) exited the House chamber boasting that the GOP unsuccessfully held the scheduled 15-minute vote open for a total of 35 minutes to twist enough Republican arms to change the outcome.
"They didn't have the votes! They kept trying to get them to switch, but couldn't get them," Frank exclaimed as he walked through reporters in the Speaker's Lobby, which is just off the House floor.
Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay (Mo.) laughed as he told The Hill, "We're so happy, I'm so happy. I voted against it. They tried to get enough Rs to switch their votes, because the Tea Party voted 'no' also... but it wasn't enough."