Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tea Party Faithful Rally in the Rain. Their Message to Congress: Get Tough

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Tea Party Faithful Rally in the Rain. Their Message to Congress: Get Tough

Article excerpt

Tea party supporters from around the country demanded Republicans keep their promise to cut the budget. Democrats and 'liberals' were the target of their ire, but the GOP leadership wasn't spared.

It was a chilly, drizzly day in the middle of the week, but tea party activists still turned out a couple of hundred supporters Thursday at a rally near the Capitol.

They came from around the country to send a message to Congress: Cut spending - a lot. "Keep your promise: $100 billion," read one protester's sign, referring to a 2010 Republican campaign pledge to reduce government spending by $100 billion.

Inside the Capitol, negotiations continued toward a budget deal that, thus far, looked to be coming in well below that figure. If agreement cannot be reached by April 8, the government will shut down.

Speaker after speaker depicted the Democrats - especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - as the bad guys. But there were also shots across the bow of the House Republican leadership, which appears more interested in compromising than in risking blame for a shutdown.

"I say to the Republican leadership, take off your lace panties," said Kathy Dirr of the Tea Party Patriots. "Stop being noodle- backs. Take a strong, bold, unwavering stand for and with the American people."

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) of Texas, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, echoed that view, praising the protesters: "You bring calcium to those who need it for their backbone."

Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana, a tea party favorite in Congress, urged taking a hard line on budget cuts - and if that meant a shutdown, then so be it.

"If liberals in the Senate would rather play political games and shut down the government instead of making a small down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say, shut it down," Congressman Pence said, eliciting a chant of "Cut or shut! Cut or shut!" from the crowd. Republicans worried about blame for a shutdown might not be so happy with Pence for that.

The Tea Party Caucus organizer - and possible presidential candidate - Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota showed off her crowd-rallying skill in a rousing pep talk. …

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