December 17th, 2010
02:40 PM ET
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he wasn’t awake at the time. “I think some of us were…certainly asleep,” he said. “Asleep?” a stunned reporter asked. “Yes,” Gibbs responded.
It was a low key evening for the president as well who apparently wasn’t following the vote in the final hours.
A White House official said Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, emailed him “around midnight” with news that the bill had passed. At the time the president was reading in the private residence.
Unlike other major Obama accomplishments passed by Congress, there was no statement hailing the bill and no senior advisers blanketing the morning network shows. After several attempts to get reaction to the overnight victory, one top aide finally told CNN, the White House was “feeling pretty good” about the vote.
“This was, I think, a very important and a very big piece of business that we needed to get done.”
White House officials dismissed suggestions that their reaction was muted. They point out that the president is delivering remarks and doing a public signing joined by 150 people, including members of Congress, administration officials and key stakeholder and advocates who worked to pass the bill.