Intra-Party rift on funding bill shows serious cracks in Democrat Party’s unified front

Obama and Pelosi

The mainstream media spends an inordinate amount of time reporting on the conservative/grassroots versus “Establishment” rift within the Party. Meanwhile, Democrats tend to lock arms and tackle policy initiatives in a unified manner — until now.

Congress avoided a government shutdown last night when they passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government open through the end of the year. For a moment, it looked like Massachusetts Senator and liberal darling Elizabeth Warren would be the face of the government shutdown.

First, let’s take a look at the notion of a government shutdown. When Senator Ted Cruz pushed a government shutdown last year, it was the end of the world for the media. In reality, not many Americans realized the government even shuttered its doors.

Kevin Glass at Townhall has a great piece about how the media covered the possible Warren-fueled shutdown versus the Cruz-fueled shutdown of October 2013. Glass writes:

During last year’s government shutdown when Republicans and Democrats couldn’t come to a compromise on spending provisions to continue to fund the government, the media portrayed it as Ted Cruz’s fault - Ted Cruz’s shutdown, because he wanted to defund Obamacare. This year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to reject the bipartisan spending compromise to get rid of business-friendly deregulatory provisions.

But this year, it’s not about “Elizabeth Warren’s plan to shut down the government.”

No, the media can’t bring themselves to go there. Instead of “Why Democrats Want to Shut Down the Government,” we get “Warren tells House Dems not to support omnibus.” Instead of “Elizabeth Warren and the shutdown caucus,” we get “Spending bill teeters amid Democratic discontent.” Instead of “Elizabeth Warren Is Protesting the Shutdown She Asked For” we have “Elizabeth Warren Joinse Revolt Against Wall Street Deal In Government Shutdown Talks.

Last year, Ted Cruz’s push against the government spending deal was all about how Ted Cruz wants a shutdown. But when Elizabeth Warren threatens to torpedo a spending deal that will result in a shutdown, it’s all about her courage in standing up to Wall Street and her populist movement against fat cats. Everyone loves a good story about intrapartisan fighting on Capitol Hill, but only the media wants to hide that what’s behind Elizabeth Warren’s crusade is that she wants to shut down the government to achieve her goals.

Even The New Republic lauded the prospect of a Warren-driven government shutdown. Sean Davis at The Federalist dug into the memory hole and found footage of Warren calling a government shutdown “anarchy.”

And though Warren was one of the loudest voices against the funding bill, President Obama and his staff were dialing for votes and meeting with Democrats to get the bill passed. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — usually one of Obama’s staunchest allies in Congress — was furious Obama lobbied in favor of it.

Fewer than one-third of the Democrat caucus voted for the bill, and Bloomberg reporter Michael C. Bender noted:

By showing her willingness to blow up a big spending package as part of a narrow debate over bank regulation and campaign-finance measures, Pelosi aligned herself with the most liberal wing of her party, took on Obama in a rare public display of disagreement, and set a marker for the next two years on how far she’ll go to help Republicans pass crucial legislation.

She managed a liberal revolt led by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by giving members room to air their grievances while fighting for last-minute changes. That included a marathon three-hour meeting Thursday night in which some lawmakers sent guacamole and tortilla chips out to waiting reporters.

The liberal wing of the Democrat Party flexed its muscle and appears to be on track to continue expressing its opposition to Republican legislation in the next Congress. Pelosi claimed Democrats were “blackmailed” in order to support the bill, and liberals believe that Obama has abandoned them.

POLITICO reports on Obama’s abandonment and the liberal response:

Obama’s base said he tried to sell them out—and didn’t even wait to do it until Republicans officially expand their majority in the House and take over the Senate come January. And some on the left worried the wide range of policy riders in a spending bill were a worrisome sign as Republicans take over the Senate next year – and are already urging Obama to steel himself and ready his veto pen for what’s to come.

“We gave Democrats in the House multiple opportunities to negotiate the best deal they could get,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said late Thursday on MSNBC, explaining why the president and others were whipping votes. “The good news is they got a pretty good deal.”

Few liberals saw things his way. The White House’s support for the measure sent them into a rage, including a very rare and blunt split between Pelosi and the president which began when a White House statement landed in Washington inboxes on Thursday afternoon. The message from the president: The bill has plenty to scoff at, but you should vote for it anyway.

The Daily Beast notes the breakdown in the House pitted Obama and Republican leadership against Nancy Pelosi’s liberal wing and conservative Republicans, which could be a harbinger for future fights where conservatives break with Republican leadership and liberals break with the Obama Administration.

But this is even bigger than that.

The mainstream media has spent years highlighting the fights within the Republican Party. The narrative is always that Republicans aren’t unified. This is the first time in recent memory that mainstream outlets have conceded that Democrats aren’t unified heading into the minority. It’s an important admission as the incoming Republican majority seeks to craft a narrative of governance against the contrast of Democrat obstruction and a president unwilling to compromise.


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