When Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his conservative allies argued last year that Republicans should not vote for a spending package that funded Obamacare, they were pilloried by critics who blamed them for shutting the government down.
Will the same thing happen to liberal Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her liberal colleagues if the spending bill being pushed through Congress to keep the government open fails this week?
On Wednesday, Warren called on her Democratic colleagues in the House to oppose the massive $1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September 2015. Her criticism with the bill has to do with a provision tucked inside the legislation that repeals certain Wall Street restrictions inside the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul.
“I urge my colleagues in the House — particularly my Democratic colleagues, whose votes are essential to moving this package forward — to withhold support from it until this risky giveaway is removed from the legislation,” Warren said in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “We all need to stand and fight this giveaway to the most powerful banks in the country.”
Liberals aren’t the only ones protesting the spending bill, which the House is taking up for a vote on Thursday.
Some conservatives are protesting the bill, pointing to riders in the bill that they say amount to handouts to special interests. Other conservatives say the bill should be opposed for not doing anything to stop President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.
But is Warren this week playing a similar role Cruz played last year?
“I rise today in an effort to speak for 26 million Texans and for 300 million Americans,” Cruz said in his filibuster last year. “All across this country Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare. ObamaCare isn’t working. Yet fundamentally there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people.”
On Wednesday, Warren opened her speech with a similar populist emotional appeal, saying: “I come to the floor today to ask a fundamental question — who does Congress work for? Does it work for the millionaires, the billionaires, the giant companies with their armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Or does it work for all of us?”
The deadline to pass legislation to keep the government is open is midnight Thursday evening. If this spending bill fails, it’s possible lawmakers could pass a short-term stopgap bill to keep the government from shutting down.