As the 113th Congress winds to a close, the last few days may have given us a taste of what’s to come in 2015, with liberal Democrats sparring with the White House and more conservative Republicans rattling the cage of their leadership, as the Right and Left joined in opposing a giant year-end spending bill.
On the Republican side, it’s been no secret that more conservative GOP lawmakers are itching for a fight – whether with Speaker John Boehner or Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
But on the Democratic side, we’ve seen some high profile liberal Democrats tangle with the White House, most notably their House leader Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Like Pelosi, Warren has repeatedly attacked the Omnibus for a provision that relaxes one part of the Wall Street reforms enacted in 2009, which placed tougher regulations on derivatives.
Also stirring things up on the Senate floor has been Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who pressed for a procedural vote related to the President’s executive actions on immigration, and all but called out GOP leaders on the matter, as he strongly opposed the Omnibus as well.
And when the roll was called on the Omnibus in both the House and Senate, most of those lawmakers opposing the bill were either on the more conservative side, or the more liberal side.
The two wings seem to be coming together right now – even though they have much different goals and ideas.
For example, here was the Senate vote to approve the Omnibus – it seems sort of hard to imagine names like Cruz, Warren, Sanders and Sessions all on the same side – but that’s what happened.
And one has to wonder whether it may happen more often in the New Year as well.
Cruz vs GOP Establishment
As mentioned above, Sen. Cruz had pushed for some kind of vote related to the President’s immigration actions; GOP leaders have said they wanted to wait until January when the new Congress is seated, as Republicans will then control both houses of Congress.
But for Cruz and a group of Republicans in Congress, that’s not an answer they want to hear.
So after it seemed like the Senate was going to adjourn for the week on Friday evening, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) pressed to keep the Senate working on Saturday, which gave Democrats more time to push ahead on a series of more controversial nominations.
The effort by Cruz and Lee was obviously not cleared with their own GOP leadership, and it again drove a wedge between Cruz and a number of GOP Senators, as a number of Republicans refused to support Cruz’ point of order against the Omnibus on immigration.
As the weekend went on, Democrats did all they could to claim victory and try their best to fan the flames of the Cruz vs. GOP Leadership story line.
Some Republicans also made clear they thought Cruz had made a mistake in forcing the Senate to stay in session on Saturday, giving time to Democrats to push ahead on nominations.
Allies of Cruz pushed back, arguing the nominees were going to get approved anyway – this is the communications chief for Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
So, as we head towards the holidays – with the new Congress convening on January 6, we already have had a Legislative Taste Test for 2015: both parties will have some spicy sauce on their wings.
Left and Right.