Tea Party movement activists split on budget deal

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

National Tea Party movement leaders are divided when it comes to whether or not they support the 11th hour budget deal House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama cut late Friday night.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler came out in strong opposition to the deal. “In the seven days preceding last night’s deal, our nation’s debt increased by $54.1 billion. And now our ‘leaders’ are touting as ‘historic’ the $38.5 billion in spending cuts for the rest of fiscal year 2011,” Meckler said in a statement. “Leadership requires bold, visionary action in times of crisis. Are we getting bold, visionary leadership in Washington, DC?  We think the numbers speak for themselves.”

FreedomWorks president and CEO Matt Kibbe, on the other hand, told The Daily Caller he thinks the deal is a “victory in the sense that we are moving this massive stubborn Washington establishment in our direction.”

“I do think it is a profound shift in conversation in Washington, D.C., that has been forced by the Tea Party in that everybody is now stating how much to cut,” Kibbe said. “President Obama started off wanting to increase spending in FY 2011. Harry Reid sat on his hands saying, ‘I’m not going to cut any spending.’ We brought them in our direction. We’ve got a lot more work to do, but at least they’ve acknowledged we’ve got to cut.”

Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, told TheDC he’ll vote ‘no’ on the deal next week, but won’t cut into leadership’s efforts by trying to make a strategic block of the bill.

“I don’t think it’s to our advantage to try to do this upset this far,” King said in a phone interview. “I think we have to take our stand on the principles we believe in, but, to go in and strategize – I mean, there are tactics that could be used – but, this is more about not using the leverage we had than it is about upsetting this thing at this point.”

There were 28 Republicans who voted against the deal Friday night, but King isn’t sure how many will stand with him next week.

The earliest the bill can hit the president’s desk, most likely, is some time on Thursday, if everything goes according to plan.

The bill has to be written – then it needs 72 hours before the House can vote on it. The Senate has to wait until the House passes the bill before voting on the deal, as it’s a spending bill – and then the president has to sign it. There are a number of procedural efforts members could use to derail the bill anywhere throughout the process if they have enough supporters on board with them – mostly offering amendments.

King said the reason he opposes this Continuing Resolution budget deal is because he thinks it doesn’t take a bold enough stance – and may set a dangerous precedent for future showdowns.

“I think that the leverage that we had not only could have ended up putting the brakes on Obamacare until such time that the Supreme Court could rule, at a minimum, and so, that opportunity is not completely gone, but the best opportunity to do so would be gone,” King told TheDC. “If we didn’t maximize our leverage at the first and biggest opportunity that we have, then our ability to maximize our leverage at any point along the way in this 112th Congress has been diminished.”

The next showdown will likely be on whether or not to raise the debt limit and, after that, appropriations bills for the 2012 budget will take center stage.