The largest federal employee union drew a pack of strong and influential friends to a cold-weather Capitol Hill rally Tuesday, but unfortunately for the workers, the powerful aren’t as powerful as they used to be.

Hundreds of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) members and supporters from other public service unions gathered across the street from the Capitol to demand better pay and more respect.

They loved it when AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. spoke of opening “a can of whoop-ass” on members of Congress who defy the union.

The union members were joined by two U.S. senators and three House members, an impressive roster of speakers for any organization. But they are all Democrats in a Congress now controlled by Republicans. The politicians fired up the crowd, said all the right words, then went back across the street, where they’ll wait to see what the Republicans do.

Federal unions and most of their supporters on the Hill are like a team that never gets the ball — they can only play defense. Bills they support, like one to give feds a 3.8 percent pay raise, are good rallying points but are not likely to score.

Read more in the Federal Diary.