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The Spending Battle’s Winners and Losers

Posted on December 15, 2014
Obama meets with Congressional Leadership July 2011.jpg

"Obama meets with Congressional Leadership July 2011" by Official White House Photo by Pete Souza - http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/photogallery/debt-and-deficit-negotiations (Photograph 4 of 20). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank)

So, now that we have dispensed with the “cromnibus,” who won and who lost in the latest budget battle?  Here are my picks:

Winners:

*The House Appropriations Committee:  The committee members reasserted their relevance, beating the conventional wisdom through hard work and grit. Most people thought that Congress’s spending committee would be forced to punt until next year, but Chairman Hal Rogers did not take no for an answer and got 11 of the 12 annual bills passed in one big bill.

*John Boehner: The House speaker had demanded that his colleagues wrap up work by Dec. 11 and, amazingly, that’s exactly what happened. Mr. Boehner stared down a challenge from his right flank, plotted out a winning strategy to ease many of his colleagues’ concerns about immigration, and he got the work of the House done without a major insurrection.

*Ted Cruz: The Texan showed once again that he has little interest in staying in the Senate, but he was able to become the face of the conservative movement and gave his future presidential campaign an extra shot of adrenaline.

*Mitch McConnell: Thanks to the antics of Sens. Cruz and Mike Lee, Sen. McConnell’s caucus is more unified than ever before.  And members are unified in one specific way: their dislike of Sens. Cruz and Lee. That will give the incoming Senate majority leader more breathing room to cut deals in the future.

*Barack Obama: For the president, this is a victory because 11/12ths of the government will experience smooth sailing for another year. His executive order on immigration might anger the right, but it became clear that outside of a Supreme Court challenge, there is not much that conservatives can do about it.

Losers:

*Mike Lee: Unlike his sidekick Ted Cruz, Mr. Lee wants to make a career out of being a senator. But unnecessarily alienating all but one of your colleagues makes for an awfully uncomfortable place to work. Utah changed its election rules this year, and Mr. Lee is more vulnerable to a primary challenge. After the kinds of antics on display last week, it is hard to see who would want to help him out in a crunch.

*Talk Radio: Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and others went crazy on the cromni. And guess what?  Nobody noticed.

*Nancy Pelosi: Rep. Pelosi lost control of her caucus, and Steny Hoyer proved that he could collect the votes to get things over the finish line. That makes Steny Hoyer much more valuable to the outside world, and the minority leader looks weaker than ever.

*Elizabeth Warren: Everybody is talking about Sen. Warren running for president–except for her. In the meantime, she has burned bridges with her leadership and her president over a very minor change to the Dodd-Frank regulations. It’s not good for her that she is being called the liberal version of Ted Cruz.