Congressional Republicans — including Nevada’s Mark Amodei and Dean Heller — retreat, and Obamacare lives!

Of course Republicans pulled their health-care bill.

The GOP leadership may be hell-bent on reversing the Affordable Care Act, but it’s not stupid. The No. 1 rule of politics: Never hold a vote you don’t know you’re going to win. And sure as hell never hold a vote you know you’re going to lose.

Partial credit for the outcome goes to Nevada’s congressional delegation, and not just the Democrats, who all opposed the bill. Rep. Mark Amodei also came out against the measure, although he did offer a few late amendments to protect his constituents.

And Amodei wasn’t alone. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said in an interview with PoliticsNOW’s Patrick Walker last week that he had problems with the bill, too, a warning sign to vote-counting Republicans who needed every “aye” they could muster.

The ironies abound. Republicans tried scores of times to repeal or truncate the Affordable Care Act, but faced a veto from President Barack Obama. Now that they’ve got a Republican chief executive — one who promised repeatedly to repeal the health-care law — the GOP couldn’t get the votes.

And it wasn’t because of Democratic opposition. It was because of rebels in their own ranks. And those rebels weren’t moderate Republicans concerned about pulling the Medicaid rug out from under newly covered patients. No, the opposition came from conservatives who wanted to cut the law more deeply and more quickly.

President Trump initially demanded a vote on Friday, saying that if House Republicans squandered this opportunity to kill the law, he was moving on to other things. Let Democrats own the ACA and its flaws, he said. In the end, Democrats seem fine with that. But they shouldn’t be too gleeful. For them, this was a narrow escape, not a hard-won victory.

• Last week, Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, took off after legislative Democrats. The target of his ire? Recent bills to ban plastic shopping bags, mandate that state printers print on both sides of the page, and passage of a resolution encouraging the Senate to protect abortion rights when considering the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

“Over the last few days, we have seen derisory legislation introduced dictating to Nevadans how to shop, vote, print, make copies, and even bizarrely trying to tell the United States Congress what type of Supreme Court Justices to confirm,” Anderson said in a statement. “I get that my friends across the aisle won in 2016, but instead of working together to better our schools, create an environment that produces high quality, high-paying jobs, and provide safe streets for our children to grow up, they’ve committed themselves to gutting education funding, tying the hands of law enforcement, and dictating to business owners what kind of shopping bags they can provide customers.”

It’s understandable that Anderson — a reasonable, open-minded Republican — wants to forget what we were talking about two years ago, when the GOP had won every statewide office and controlled both houses of the Legislature.

Would it really be better to be talking about what school restrooms transgender kids can use? Debating abortion restrictions? Arguing over whether we can carry our guns into day-care centers or airports?

Say what you will about the Democrats, but they have yet to author a bill that even the (very forgiving) Legislative Counsel Bureau declared to be out-and-out unconstitutional. That happened under GOP reign.

Yes, some of the bills introduced in the 2017 session are silly and even ridiculous. But the moral of the story is that frivolous bills aren’t the domain of a single party.

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or

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