Dem: Don’t be intimidated by Obama

Greg Nash

Liberal House Democrats are fighting tooth and nail against President Obama over the fate of an enormous year-end government spending bill.  

With just hours to go before a scheduled government shutdown, the Democrats launched a lobbying blitz to counter calls made by Obama and other White House officials urging passage of the bill. 

{mosads}Leading the charge was Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, who is up in arms over the face that Obama has agreed to accept a GOP rider to undo parts of the 2010 Wall Street reform law as part of the package. 

Waters gathered more than 20 fellow Democrats to her office Thursday afternoon to push back against the president’s efforts after learning of Obama’s lobbying effort. 

And she’s not apologizing for it. 

“We don’t like lobbying that is being done by the president or anybody else that would allow us to support a bill that … would give a big gift to Wall Street and the bankers who caused this country to almost go into a depression,” she said. “So I’m opposed to it and we’re going to fight it.” 

Waters said the lawmakers who met in her office, including Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), divvied up a list of members and took to the phones to urge Democrats to hold their ground in opposition to the package. 

“We’re fighting anybody who is lobbying to tell people to vote for this bill,” Waters said. “If the president is lobbying, we do not like it, and we’re saying to our members, ‘Don’t be intimidated by anybody.’ ” 

The comments mark a rare public rift between Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill. But Waters is hardly alone.  

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took to the chamber floor earlier in the day to denounce the government spending package, particularly the Wall Street provision and another Republican rider empowering wealthy campaign donors to contribute more to political parties. 

She did not spare the White House her anger. 

“I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this,” Pelosi said. 

The White House is pushing back, with press secretary Josh Earnest appearing on MSNBC to argue that the deal is the best the Democrats can hope for given the current political environment.  

“Democrats should be on board with this bill,” Earnest said. “This is the kind of compromise the president’s been seeking from Republicans for years now.” 

The Democratic opposition is highly significant in the “cromnibus” fight, as Republican defections have forced Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to rely on Democratic votes to move the package to the Senate.  

Pelosi, Waters and numerous other Democrats want to use that leverage to excise the controversial amendments from the larger package. 

The Democrats staged a closed-door meeting of the caucus at 5:30 p.m., where White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was in attendance. Still, the liberal Democrats showed no intention of backing down in their opposition to the package. 

“We believe that if we stand up and fight, that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to put this bill out. They need Democrats to put this bill out,” Waters said. “Why should Democrats join with Republicans to put out a bill that has this kind of measure in it? It doesn’t make good sense and we disagree with anybody else who differs.” 

Tags Boehner Denis McDonough John Boehner Xavier Becerra

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