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Pelosi to Wall Street: Ignore Warren. Dems Still Love You

House Minority Leader highlights growing rift in party over contentious financial and trade issues

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dismissed Sen. Elizabeth Warren's comments on Wall Street regulations. (Photo: Shawn/flickr/cc)

U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday told CNBC that there was no "consensus" among Democrats that the Obama administration should enforce stricter regulations on the financial industry, highlighting a growing intra-party divide just as the 2016 presidential election begins to take shape.

Pelosi's comments draw another line in the sand between so-called "corporate" and "progressive" Democrats, coming amid criticism from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others that the White House, as well as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Mary Jo White, have been "too soft" on Wall Street.

"There may have been a couple of people who say that, but that is not the consensus in our party," Pelosi said in a 45-minute interview with CNBC's John Harwood. "People will express themselves the way they do. That doesn't mean they're speaking for the party."

The interview was published just over a week after Pelosi and Warren teamed up in an ultimately failed effort to block passage of the controversial legislation known as Trade Promotion Authority, or Fast Track, which gives President Barack Obama power to push pro-corporate agendas through Congress without input from lawmakers.

Pelosi's statement on Wednesday "was a reminder that, as the leader of House Democrats, Pelosi outranks Warren," Harwood wrote.


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But the former speaker's comments are not surprising, Harwood continued. "Pelosi is a prodigious fundraiser who needs some Wall Street backing for her effort to recapture a Democratic majority," he wrote. "She also was the speaker who pushed through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill that Warren wishes had been tougher."

Financial regulation, as well as trade, have become significant flashpoints within the Democratic party and the 2016 landscape. Hillary Clinton, the current frontrunner for the Democratic party presidential nomination, has yet to make a definitive statement on whether she supports Fast Track or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the secretive 12-nation corporate investment agreement that critics say would "choke free speech, innovation, privacy and digital rights." 

But despite her own opposition to Fast Track, Pelosi has hinted several times that she may endorse Hillary Clinton for president. In her interview with CNBC, the speaker said she had "confidence that [Clinton] will be one of the most qualified people to go into the Oval Office in a long time."

Further highlighting the chasm between more corporate and progressive forces within the democratic party, on Wednesday Larry Cohen, the outgoing president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), announced his official endorsement of populist favorite Bernie Sanders—in part due to Clinton's failure to address labor issues and economic inequality.

Organized labor is "not a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party and certainly not for corporate Democrats," Cohen said.

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