During remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) encouraged a Democratic rebellion while ripping and shredding Wall Street and House Republicans for trying to weaken financial protections will giving Big Banks a huge gift in the government funding bill.
Sen. Warren said,
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 the people?
People are frustrated with Congress and part of the reason, of course, is gridlock, but mostly it’s because they see a Congress that works just fine for the big guys, but it won’t lift a finger to help them.
Now, the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of government for the rich and powerful. The House is about to vote on a budget deal. A deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system. These are the same banks that nearly broke the economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs.
And now, no debate and no discussion, Republicans in the House of Representatives are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get a chance to repeal it. That raises a simple question. Why? If this rule brings more stability to our financial system. If this rule helps prevent future government bailouts. Why in the world would anyone want to repeal it? Let alone hold the entire government hostage to ram through this appeal. The reason unfortunately is simple. It’s about money, and it’s about power. Because while this legal change could pose serious risks to our entire economy, it will also make a lot of money for a handful of our biggest banks.
Now, I know that House and Senate negotiators from both parties have worked long and hard to come to an agreement on the omnibus spending legislation, and Senate leaders deserve great for preventing House leaders from carrying out some of their more aggressive fantasies about dismantling even more pieces of financial reform, but this provision goes too far. Citigroup is large and it is powerful, but it is a single private company. It shouldn’t get to hold the entire government hostage, to threaten a government shutdown, in order to rollback important protections that keep our economy safe.
This is a democracy and the American people didn’t elect us to stand up for Citigroup. They elected us to stand up for all the people.
I urge my colleagues in the House, particularly my Democratic colleagues, whose votes are essential for moving this package forward to withhold support from it until this risky giveaway is removed from this legislation. We all need to stand and fight this giveaway to the most powerful banks in this nation.
Warren also explained during her remarks that the provision in the legislation was written by Citicorp lobbyists. Democrats and Republicans are divided within their own parties on this bill. The left is in full rebellion over this provision, and if enough Democrats withhold their support, the bill won’t pass the House.
It is estimated that 50-60 House Republicans will vote against the bill because they are displeased with the lack of action over Obama’s immigration executive orders. Boehner needs House Democrats in order to pass this bill. If he doesn’t get the Democrats, the bill will die.
Democrats must keep the pressure on. Boehner will drop the provision from the bill because he will do almost anything to avoid a government shutdown. Sen. Warren was correct. If they keep the heat on, they can prevail. The first fight is in the House. A victory by Warren and the other congressional liberals would be the biggest sign yet that the left is going to be a force in the next Congress.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association