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Politics

Political Notebook

Former rivals John McCain, Elizabeth Warren team up

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senator Elizabeth Warren has a seat on the Senate Banking Committee and a reputation as a fiscal issue fighter.

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain never seemed to care much for Elizabeth Warren.

While campaigning for Senator Scott Brown, the Republican from Arizona criticized Warren for having “special interest allies.” He accused her of using “class warfare rhetoric.” He said she held “anti-capitalist views.”

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But politics can make strange bedfellows. And about two months ago, McCain found himself sitting with Warren inside the offices of Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, trying to work with the newly elected Democrat from Massachusetts.

Cantwell and McCain had previously filed legislation to reinstate portions of the Glass-Steagall Act, which restricted commercial banks from engaging in risky financial behavior. Now, they wanted Warren — with her seat on the Senate Banking Committee and reputation as a fiscal issue fighter — to take the lead as they refiled a new version of the bill.

“We just decided on the spot that we would do a 21st-century Glass-Steagall,” Warren said in an interview.

The Glass-Steagall Act dates to 1933, and it basically prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment activities. The provisions were whittled down over the years, and it was fully repealed in 1999. McCain voted for the repeal but he has since said that the repeal helped contribute to the financial downturn in 2008.

Previous attempts to craft regulations like Glass-Steagall have failed or never gained enough traction for a vote.

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After the meeting in Cantwell’s office, Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, was also added to the group. By Thursday, a Warren aide carried the bill by hand to be officially filed, and the group was ready to take its case public. There was a press conference, and then McCain and Warren went to the Senate floor.

McCain went first, and praised Warren more than anyone has in that forum.

“I’d like to thank the senator from Massachusetts, who I will freely admit has a great deal more knowledge, background, and expertise on this issue than I do,” McCain said. “I appreciate her leadership.”

MATT VISER

New guidelines will protect journalists’ phone records

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder, who was criticized for the Justice Department’s tactics in secretly obtaining phone logs and e-mails of journalists reporters as part of leak investigations, announced guidelines Friday that would narrow the circumstances under which records can be obtained.

Holder outlined changes to the Justice Department’s investigative guidelines that would prevent the FBI from portraying a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials.

NEW YORK TIMES

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