Democrats court liberals by elevating Elizabeth Warren to leadership

With a nod to the need for change, Democrats tapped liberal favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren to join the Senate leadership Thursday as the party tries to recover from its devastating electoral losses.

The Massachusetts senator joins the team led by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, whose own reelection Thursday as leader of the incoming minority party was not unanimous and was punctuated with scattered dissent.

After years of public infighting on the Republican side of the aisle, it was Democrats on Thursday whose divisions spilled into the halls.

Democratic senators cloistered themselves for a three-hour meeting behind closed doors in the historic Old Senate Chamber, as Republicans easily elected their own congressional leaders.

“One of the things about that room is it’s very easy to talk in a very serious and heartfelt way,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “That took place for a number of hours.”


One by one, Democratic senators rose to make their case about the disastrous election last week, the leadership choices before them and the overall direction of the party. In all, 28 senators spoke -- half the caucus.

For Democrats, Warren’s rise provides substance as well as symbolism. Her title is simply advisor to the party’s policy committee. But her real job will be outreach to the liberal wing that has complained the party hasn’t been strong enough on core economic, middle-class issues, such as raising the minimum wage, making college affordable and fighting Wall Street excesses.

“Somebody asked me on the way in here, ‘Liz Warren is going to be part of your leadership; what do you expect her to do?’” Reid said while introducing his new team. “I expect her to be Elizabeth Warren.”

For the latest from Congress follow @LisaMascaro