Politics

Liberal ‘Hell No’ Caucus Rises

In this Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, file photo, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., defends the Senate Democrats' vote to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, file photo, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., defends the Senate Democrats’ vote to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president’s nominees for judges and other top posts, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Politico) – The defeat of the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate marked a major show of muscle for next year’s new hell-no caucus: liberals.

Liberal Senate Democrats united to block the controversial project, even though their imperiled Democratic colleague Mary Landrieu of Louisiana begged them not to at a Democratic Caucus lunch on Tuesday afternoon.

It was a remarkable move for a group that has stood behind Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over the years, as he sought to protect vulnerable moderates, like Landrieu and some of her now-ousted colleagues, from taking tough votes on divisive environmental, health care and social issues.

But red-state Democrats like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska are on their way out, and liberals like Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse — with Elizabeth Warren leading the way on messaging — may cause as many headaches for Senate Republicans as tea partyers caused Democrats in the past four years.

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