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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the subject of retirement rumors as recently as a month ago, is asserting herself in the battle over the fiscal cliff and readying for battle in the 113th Congress.
“In the course of this Congress, we have voted for the Budget Control Act and we have voted for a few hundred billion dollars more in cuts. That’s over the next 10 years: $1.6 trillion in cuts. That’s enough,” the California Democrat said in an interview Wednesday.
Pelosi’s emphasis that Democrats have signed off on spending cuts follows her statements on the House floor Tuesday, when she challenged Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to reach a deal minutes after he was on the floor to advocate for more specific cuts from the White House on a fiscal deal.
While careful not to draw a firm line against new spending cuts in President Barack Obama’s budget that are on the table in fiscal cliff talks, Pelosi’s focus on the size of spending cuts already enacted sets her apart from other Democratic leaders.
“He has $400 billion in [spending cuts] in his budget,” Pelosi added, regarding the breadth of the cuts already agreed to before the elections.
Pelosi’s assertive positioning there might presage an aggressive minority stance in the next Congress, assuming the fiscal cliff saga comes to an end.
The Democrat is already preparing new legislation to address the long voting lines on Election Day, part of a larger push on campaign finance reform.
“We have different elements to our plan, and they all happen to have the support of the American people,” Pelosi said, suggesting she will go around probable Republican opposition by mobilizing public support for the bill.
And showing a feisty side on the House floor Wednesday, Pelosi called out incoming House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas for “smirking” at her proposal to bring up an extension of the “middle-income tax cut” that Democrats support under suspension of the rules.
“Do I detect your smirk to mean you don’t think Republicans will vote for middle-income tax cuts, Mr. Sessions? Should I take it to mean that you will continue to hold middle-income tax cuts hostage?” she asked.
In a press availability afterward, Pelosi showed little patience for the difficult position Boehner is in politically.
Comparing the situation to her decision as speaker to allow passage of funding for the Iraq War despite her vehement opposition to it, Pelosi asked, “Do you know what it was like for me to bring a bill to the floor to fund the war in Iraq that was predicated on a misrepresentation to the American people?