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POL Maxine Waters’ new challenge: AOC and freshman upstarts
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    NW Ohio

    Maxine Waters’ new challenge: AOC and freshman upstarts

    California Democrat Katie Porter fought with her over committee procedures. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the Squad of progressive female lawmakers withheld their support from her over the Export-Import Bank. Their staffs have pressed her team to give them more time to weigh in on bills.

    The target of these progressive freshmen: not some conservative Republican. It’s liberal icon Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, who is facing growing dissatisfaction — and at times outright rebellion — from high-profile, left-leaning lawmakers who joined the panel earlier this year.

    Some progressives have openly lamented the committee’s leanings toward more moderate, business-friendly Democrats who dominate its ranks — a dynamic largely outside of Waters' control. Ocasio-Cortez vented at a Nov. 19 hearing on private equity that she was “quite upset” with softball questions that members on both sides of the aisle were tossing at representatives of leveraged buyout firms tied to mass layoffs at companies like Toys "R" Us.

    “There’s sometimes been some tensions,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview.
    The incidents underscore the challenges that Waters, who is 81 and entered Congress in 1991, and other House leaders face in pulling together a restive caucus that has become increasingly polarized.

    To some extent, the tensions were inevitable when the newly elected batch of progressive lawmakers landed spots on the committee in January. They were immediately seen as a threat to moderates and a potential leadership challenge for Waters as she tried to unify her caucus.

    Ocasio-Cortez won her New York seat by taking on former Rep. Joe Crowley — then a member of the House Democratic leadership — in the 2018 Democratic primary. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), another member of the Squad, followed the same path when she unseated former Rep. Michael Capuano, who was a senior Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

    To be certain, the freshmen share many positions with Waters. "Auntie Maxine," as she is affectionately known by her supporters, has used her committee gavel to refocus the panel’s agenda on protecting consumers and expanding opportunities for minorities. Waters, a Los Angeles Democrat, has summoned powerful Wall Street executives to testify at hearings, giving her new members — especially Ocasio-Cortez and Porter — an opportunity to go viral with fierce questioning of financiers and Trump administration officials.

    But the new members have not always fallen in line with the chairwoman, and the tensions have become increasingly apparent to others on the committee.
    “Body language says a lot,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), a senior committee member.

    In general, Ocasio-Cortez told POLITICO, there has been a tendency to give priority to “conservative seat needs” out of protection for swing-state members.

    “It’s always very tough,” she said.

    Waters' office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
    One aide to a progressive freshman on the committee said Waters' staff faced a difficult task in "wrangling a very wide range of perspectives in the caucus." While there has been some tension between her staff and progressive offices over process issues, progressives' frustration is also with the moderates.

    Waters’ committee staff, the aide said, "put a lot of work into getting powerful witnesses to testify for a hearing examining private equity, for instance, only to have a significant portion of Dem members give industry a pass," the aide said.
    Waters and Porter, a protege of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have had the most open conflict among the freshman group.

    Porter, a former professor who flipped a Republican-held seat in Orange County last year, has battled with Waters over her use of visual aids at committee hearings.
    Waters, prompted by committee Republicans, has stopped Porter from using the props when questioning witnesses at hearings, warning Porter that she's violating committee rules.

    “We’ve talked about this before," Waters told Porter after asking her to put down a “Financial Services Bingo” board at a debt collection hearing in September.
    Porter shot back: “Are we adding additional committee rules at this time?”

    Porter, who has emerged as a progressive luminary in her own right, has argued that visual aids help her better engage with the public on big economic policy issues. She said at a recent housing conference that the committee's suggested questions for hearings usually aren't "spicy enough for me."

    The debate has at least given her fodder for the late-night talk show circuit.
    “The chairwoman overruled my use of this,” Porter told “Late Night” host Seth Meyers as he held up the bingo board that Waters shut down.

    Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), a senior Financial Services member who’s part of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, said Waters should be the last word on committee rules.

    “We should all respect the chairwoman," he said. "In the courtroom, the judge controls the decorum.”

    The tensions escalated in October when Waters was trying to rally Democrats to approve legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, the beleaguered agency that guarantees loans for U.S. goods sold abroad.

    Republicans were boycotting the bill and Waters needed to push it through committee on a party-line vote.

    Waters was likely to lose support from Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) after they made an unsuccessful attempt to attach amendments that would have imposed stronger environmental protections in deals financed by the agency. Waters rejected the amendments as she tried to maintain support for the underlying bill.

    With even Democratic votes in doubt, Waters called Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to her committee room to help make sure Porter — dressed as Batgirl for Halloween — was on board and would not join the opposition, sources familiar with the matter said.

    Porter ended up voting for the bill, and it doesn't appear she ever threatened to vote against it, raising further questions about her relationship with Waters.

    “Rep. Porter was firmly committed to vote yes on Ex-Im reauthorization after the changes made by the Chairwoman over the last few months," Porter spokesperson Jordan Wong said. "She was happy to chat with Leader Hoyer on the day of the vote about their shared commitment to American jobs, but she didn’t need convincing to vote ‘yes.’"

    A Hoyer aide said the majority leader, an outspoken Export-Import Bank supporter, "knew Republicans were playing games and causing trouble" and so he went to the markup to check in with Waters in person. The aide denied that Hoyer was there to “whip” votes.

    The incident surprised some longtime committee members, who said they'd never seen anything like it.

    “Maxine Waters called him and he rushed over,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said. “A lot of us were in the dark about what was going on."

    The rift over the Export-Import Bank isn't the only recent dispute that's erupted over committee bills.

    Staff of the freshman committee members, including Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.), have complained to Waters' team about how the House has recently moved Financial Services legislation on an expedited basis — sometimes without a committee hearing and, from their perspective, with little time for review, in particular to address objections raised by outside advocacy groups allied with progressive offices.
    Porter herself registered the dissatisfaction in September. She was the lone Democrat to vote against a bill dealing with the North American Development Bank because, her spokesperson said, the committee didn't have a hearing on the topic beforehand and the legislation was circulated for the first time just days before the vote.

    "As Rep. Porter has repeatedly shown, hearings are real opportunities to dig into issues and engage colleagues on both sides of the aisle," her spokesperson said.
    In an interview, Garcia said he is "pretty happy" with the committee's ability to address issues important to his district and there is ample opportunity to approach Waters and work with her staff. But Garcia said he’d like to see progressive members of the panel work more closely together to strategize on issues.

    “I thought we would be acting as a more cohesive force,” he said. “Individually we do it, we approach each other. But we have yet to develop an agenda I would say that we agree or formed a consensus around. Maybe that comes in Year 2."
    A socialist will trample over one hundred poor people just for the chance to throw a rock at a rich man.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Maxine Waters’ new challenge: AOC and freshman upstarts

    The old bag has to deal with the young cellophane heads.
    What is the lake of fire? What is it's purpose? Is the lake of fire eternal hell? Is there any hope of escape for those cast into this lake?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Happy on the mountain
    Mad Maxine has bigger problems than the Jihad Squad.
    The wonder of our time isn’t how angry we are at politics and politicians; it’s how little we’ve done about it. - Fran Porretto

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    North Texas
    I don't want to. I'm not going to. You can't make me. I'm retired!

    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2001
    British Columbia, Canada
    couldn't happen to a nastier person......"Impeach 45"....
    True North Strong and Free

  6. #6
    Watching Maxine Waters on a Financial Services Committee hearing is at best an exercise in wading through cognitive dissonance. At the worst it is realizing that the Financial Services industry owns Maxine. Well, maybe it's a miserable tie.


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