House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heads into the next Congress newly empowered by her feisty opposition to a year-end spending package that outraged her caucus.
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Although the California Democrat was ultimately on the losing side of the debate over a $1.1 trillion government-funding measure, her decision to take on President Obama and side with a vast majority of House Democrats won across-the-board accolades from her troops at a time when many are grumbling about their party’s future.

The strategic move at once sent a message to her liberal-leaning caucus that she’s willing to fight for core Democratic principles. It served as a warning to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that she has the power to sustain presidential vetoes, and a signal to the White House that she and the Democrats won’t be a rubber stamp for Obama-backed bills if they think the party’s values are being trampled.