Warren's Abrasiveness Rankling Members on Both Sides of Senate

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Sunday, 21 Jul 2013 10:43 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren's abrasive, combative and intellectual qualities have resulted in clashes not only with Senate Republicans, but also her fellow Democrats.

Warren is popular among her Massachusetts constituents, but her fiercely liberal views and willingness to take on Democrats who she disagrees with are making colleagues wary, reports The Hill.

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For example, Warren clashed last month with Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, over U.S. Trade Representative nominee Michael Froman.

Although Froman easily made it through the Finance Committee, Warren criticized him on the floor of the Senate after he wouldn't give her information about trade negotiations, and the nominee's backers said he would have been appointed sooner if it weren't for Warren.

Baucus was not happy, and confronted Warren after the vote in a "pretty heated exchange," a source said.

Warren also fought with Democrats over student loan legislation, The Boston Globe reports, slamming a proposal by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that would tie lending rates to a 10-year Treasury note, complaining that the plan means the United States "demands profits on the back of our kids."

Manchin, though, the next day told reporters Warren is a "dear friend" and that they "agree 90 percent of the time."

Warren lost that battle as well, with Democratic leaders agreeing to a plan based largely on Manchin's idea.

But Warren still continued to speak out against the compromise after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, endorsed it publicly.

Legislation isn't the only way Warren is irking her fellow Democrats. When she
first came to Washington, she asked for and got the "Kennedy desk," the seat occupied by both President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Sen. Edward Kennedy, considered one of the Senate's most coveted seats.

"People were saying, 'I can't believe she has the Kennedy desk after only being here a few months. John Kerry had to wait for years to get that desk,'" said a senior Democratic aide, noting that Kerry didn't get the desk until he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But despite the grumbling, Warren has some fans on both sides of the aisle. Republicans complain about her professional demeanor, saying she can be arrogant, but acknowledge she can be personable. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, says colleagues admire Warren for her intensity.

The freshman senator is also working to further bipartisan relations, asking Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker to serve as her Republican mentor as part of a program fostering cooperation. The two worked together to introduce reform legislation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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Also, Warren and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona introduced a bill that concerning the nation's largest banks.

Corker said, of his working with Warren, "I don't pay a lot of attention to the image that people come here with. I pay more attention to what appears to be their interest in particular problem areas and try to figure out a way to provide issues to get something done."


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