The White House insists that the public break between President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor Panic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda MORE (Calif.) over a government funding bill won't damage the relationship between the two top Democrats.
"The president has always had not just a good working relationship but an open line of communication with Leader Pelosi, and that didn’t change yesterday, and it’s not going to change in the future," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday.
Earnest said Obama values Pelosi because she has proven more persuasive to her members "than I think probably any other leader in either party in recent history in Congress."
"That makes her not just a good partner, it makes her a really effective one," Earnest said. "And I think that is why she and the president have had such a fruitful relationship."
Earnest also said the White House isn't taking the relationship for granted.
"I think there is a lesson that we have learned here at the White House, and I think it’s a lesson that everybody around Washington has probably learned at some point or another during Nancy Pelosi’s tenure in Congress, which is people who underestimate Nancy Pelosi do so at their own risk," he said.
Thursday represented one of the first major — and perhaps the most dramatic — splits between Pelosi and Obama. Pelosi announced before the vote on the "cromnibus" spending package that she would not support the bill and took to the House floor to say she was "heartbroken" by the legislation.
Pelosi said that provisions in the bill that would roll back aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and expand the ability of political parties to accept large-dollar donations amounted to blackmail.
"I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this and that would be the only reason they would sign such a bill that would ‘weaken a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk,’ " Pelosi said. "Those are the words in the administration's statement."
She followed that statement up with a "Dear Colleague" letter saying that Republicans did not have the votes to pass the legislation and that "increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision."
Earnest dismissed concerns that resentment over the legislation would linger. He pointed out that just weeks earlier, the White House had worked with Pelosi and other progressive Democrats against a tax deal being negotiated by Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
"So as recently as two weeks ago you had the president working seamlessly with the more progressive members of the caucus to advance the goals that he’s laid out," Earnest said.