An interesting observation tweeted by Townhall and The Federalist columnist Amy Otto caught my eye last night:
We just won a historic election. Let's tell those people that Elizabeth Warren has their back. #genius
— Amy Otto (@AmyOtto8) December 12, 2014
Otto had put her finger on a fascinating condition: The hideously named “Cromnibus” bill, which narrowly passed the House on Thursday with 219 votes, had united the conservative wing of the GOP and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in opposition. For many conservatives, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) far better represented their position on the bill than did House Republican leadership.
Politico expanded on this:
The tea party’s opposition to the rider puts it in rare agreement with progressives, who also are criticizing the provision but for different reasons. Democratic Party committees would also benefit from the measure, but they do not have the same level of intra-party strife as the Republicans.
In a statement calling on Democrats to oppose the spending bill, Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said the rider would gut “campaign finance laws” and “would represent Democrats marching in the exact wrong direction.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also cited the campaign finance provision as one of the two reasons for Democrats to sink the bill.
Politico’s effort to downplay “intra-party strife” that Democrats are presently struggling with is comical. Yesterday alone, Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mounted a campaign of open opposition the White House’s preferred outcome on this funding bill. Speaking on behalf of the president earlier that day, the CIA director delivered a lengthy and rare rebuttal to a scathing report issued by the Democrat-led Senate Intelligence Committee. That statement was countered point-by-point and in real time by SSCI Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). If that’s not “intra-party strife,” I don’t know what is.
Politico’s observation that conservatives and progressives had found common ground over their opposition to “Cromnibus” was, however, valid.
“So help me God, I have no way to refute the basic point that the Democrats are making about the CRomnibus fight right now,” RedState’s Leon Wolf wrote. “In fact, I might even go so far as to say they are right.”
“Here we have a bill that will kick the funding question almost a full year down the road, increases government spending, funds a wildly unpopular and probably unconstitutional executive amnesty, and continues the very practices voters sent Republicans to Washington to oppose,” he added. “In this context, what possible good faith reason can the Republicans have for threatening to gum up the whole works over doing a favor to Wall Street?”
That compelling argument caught the eye of no less a figure than Warren herself who approvingly cited this passage on the floor of the Senate on Thursday.
“These conservative activists are right,” the Bay State Senator said after quoting Wolf at length. “If you believe in smaller government, how can you support a provision that would expand a government insurance program and put taxpayers on the hook for the riskiest private activities?”
On Friday, Warren will join with conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in an effort to get another 39 of their fellow senators to kill the “Cromnibus.” The fact that the two populist wings of both parties are beginning to look more and more alike is not lost on their opponents. “Elizabeth Warren clearly now a Democratic Ted Cruz,” an unnamed GOP House member said according to CNBC’s John Harwood. “She has set off a stampede among Dems.”
I don’t think that was meant as a compliment.
Otto is right. The fact that conservative Republicans are finding more common cause with the face of the progressive moment more than their party’s leadership should trouble GOP brass. Even those conservatives who are not predisposed to mistrust Wall Street’s priorities took this vote as an indication that the GOP was never serious about opposing of Obama’s executive order on immigration, though neither this hybrid Omnibus nor a short-term CR would have forestalled the implementation of anything at the Department of Homeland Security.
Republican leaders might be tempted to dismiss this ire from conservatives as a mere fit of pique among conservatives, but insouciance would be a foolish approach to this development. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s a dire portent about the future instability of the Republican coalition. GOP leadership shouldn’t risk the latter.