May 19, 2014

Roll Call: Elizabeth Warren Leads Progressive Charge, but Has GOP Admirers Too

By Niels Lesniewski

May 19, 2014

"What reaction do you usually expect from banks?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked a reporter last week.

It was classic Warren. Appearing at a news conference with fellow Democrats and D.C.-area college students to roll out legislation she spearheaded that would let borrowers refinance student loans, the Massachusetts Democrat dismissed a question about financial institutions losing profits from older, high-interest loans.

"There's a real question here. Does Congress work for the rich and the powerful, for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does Congress work for the rest of America?" Warren asked. "We believe the rest of America should get a fair shot at an affordable education."

The Democratic senator is well known for her populist criticism of big banks, and the financial services sector more generally, as well as for being the driving force behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And she's raised her profile with a tour for her recently-released book "A Fighting Chance," during which she's been greeted by largely adoring audiences and no shortage of calls for her to seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2016.

Her national profile makes her a natural to lead Democratic efforts to rally their progressive base - like with the student loan bill - but her status as a star on the left doesn't seem to have hampered her ability to work with GOP senators under the Dome.

Warren has worked with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on an effort to help keep veterans from falling victim to scam artists, and she's working with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on the issue of transparency when the federal government's various enforcement agencies settle cases.

Coburn working with a potential Democratic presidential candidate on transparency issues is, oddly enough, not new. A bill that Coburn introduced with then-Sen. Barack Obama related to transparency in federal funding decisions was signed into law by President George W. Bush back in 2006.

Sen. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said he doesn't believe there would be any political repercussions for Republicans working with Warren.

"I don't think so. I know people are always speculating about that, but no I don't think so," Crapo said. He noted he had worked with Warren on legislation that would overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"We are always looking for opportunities to work with any of our colleagues. I don't think there is blow-back or anything when we work together from different perspectives," he said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., co-sponsored a bill with Warren last July that would reinstate portions of the Glass-Steagall Act.

"I think she's adjusted well to the Senate and she speaks very strongly and candidly as one might expect," McCain said. "So I think she represents her point of view in a very articulate fashion."

Read the full article online here.