President Barack Obama's victory on healthcare may spell defeat for his other domestic priorities if Republicans, incensed by Democrats' legislative tactics, succeed in blocking energy and immigration reform.
Obama, a Democrat, signed the controversial bill to overhaul the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry into law on Tuesday, delivering a major political victory for his party while antagonizing Republicans, who vowed to repeal the measure and fight his agenda going forward.
"There will be no cooperation for the rest of this year," Senator John McCain, Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, told a radio program, criticizing the way Democrats steered the bill through Congress. "They have poisoned the well in what they have done and how they have done it," he said.
The healthcare legislation passed both houses of Congress without Republican votes, and many Democrats say the opposition party has done little to support Obama's agenda anyway.
Even so, if the legislative "well" is in fact poisoned, the impact could be broad.
Obama's hopes to upgrade US education standards, rewrite rules that govern the financial industry, fight climate change and address illegal immigration depend largely on his ability to get backing in the Senate, where Democrats lack the 60 votes necessary to overcome Republican procedural hurdles.
White House advisers, who see political momentum from the healthcare success, played down concerns about other policy initiatives being blocked.
"It would be a shame if, as a political strategy, the other side adopted a kind of 'just say no' approach," David Axelrod, one of Obama's top policy advisers, told Reuters, adding that was not what Americans wanted from their government.
"They want us to work together. They want us to disagree where we disagree and find common ground where we find common ground, and that's what the president's going to continue to work to do," he said.
Axelrod said the president would turn his attention to advancing financial regulatory reform and fighting a recent Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign contributions, two issues the White House sees as political winners. Republicans and Democrats are both claiming momentum after the healthcare debate. The coming months will show whether that leads to progress or stalemate for both sides' policy goals.