Cromnibus Survives

So in the end 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voted for the “Cromnibus” last night, as the House passed the funding bill 219-206. But as yesterday wore on, the long-established split in the House GOP between those willing to postpone (and perhaps implicitly concede) a fight with the administration over immigration policy was eclipsed by a split between the White House and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (backed visibly by Sen. Elizabeth Warren) on the acceptability of Dodd-Frank and campaign finance provisions.

The Dodd-Frank provisions, which eliminated a restriction on derivatives trading known as the “swaps pushout rule” (a rare progressive legacy for former Sen. Blanche Lincoln), were accepted by Democratic appropriations negotiators (most notably Sen. Barbara Mikulski) in exchange for a boost in funding for financial regulatory agencies Republicans have been trying to gut. It’s unclear whether the White House was involved in this deal–it did signal opposition to repeal of the swaps pushout rule–but in the end supported the overall bill citing the increased leverage Republicans would have if appropriations levels were set early next year after the GOP Senate takeover.

Pelosi appeared to view yesterday’s fight as an opportunity to establish the ability of congressional Democrats to reach into the guts of “must-pass” legislation to excise particularly objectionable provisions–which might, of course, had it succeeded in derailing the “cromnibus,” have exposed Democrats to the charges of irresponsibility usually hurled at conservative hostage-takers, though there should be a distinction between trying to remove nongermane policy language from an appropriations bill and trying to add it. The precedent set instead was what former Rep. Barney Frank called “a road map for stealth unwinding of financial reform.” And Lord only knows what else.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.