The Tea Party movement’s Congressional heroes called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass a budget and for President Barack Obama to negotiate with them at a rally on Capitol Hill on Thursday, or face a government shutdown. The way Tea Partiers in Congress are framing a shutdown, though, is that it’s up to Obama and Reid, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, to stop a government shutdown – not that the Tea Party movement is making it happen.
“I keep telling you guys when you want to know about a government shutdown go ask Schumer, you can go ask the president, that’s not what I’m talking about,” Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican, told The Daily Caller at the rally. “You got people here that are playing games, playing Russian roulette, with this fiscal situation. You know, we have a debt and deficit that will lead to fiscal Armageddon.”
Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, told TheDC that a shutdown, “is not our battle – Republicans don’t want to shut it down,” and that the reason the Senate has yet to pass its own CR is because, “Democrats are in charge of the Senate – that’s why nothing is getting done.”
Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said he thinks it’s time for Republicans and Tea Partiers to make a stand against the Democrats and shut the government down if that’s what it takes. “Let’s go pick a fight,” Pence said.
“The leverage that we have right now is that government funding runs out on April 8, unless we achieve an agreement with the Senate and with the White House,” Pence said. “I think that’s leverage that House Republicans can and should use to make a down payment on changing the fiscal direction of our national government.”
Pence told TheDC that he thinks this year is different than 1995, when then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich shut the government down and faced huge political losses.
“I think the American people are alarmed at the runaway federal spending, deficits and debt that have occurred under both political parties,” Pence told TheDC. “They want to see men and women in this city take a stand for changing the fiscal direction of the government. That was not the case in 1995. This is a different time in the life of this nation. I think there’s a broad national consensus that we have to take decisive action and put our fiscal house in order, so I think the American people will define this confrontation in and they’ll know that those of us that are fighting for fiscal discipline are fighting on their side.”
Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, took a shot at Reid for saying he thinks the Tea Party is over. “Harry Reid says the Tea Party is over,” Paul said in his speech at the rally. “Has anybody ever seen Harry Reid at a Tea Party? He’s right over there, and I kid you not, I’m walking over there to sit down in his office with him. 2010 was just the beginning.”
West took another shot at Reid when TheDC asked him about his thoughts on his Tea Party comments. “Well, I think Senator Reid is a little out of touch,” West said. “I think he should come out here but, of course, there are some people who are afraid to face the American people.”
Other speakers at the rally included Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Tea Party Patriots co-founder JennyBeth Martin and Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.