Members of the Tea Party Patriots gathered on Capitol Hill Thursday at a rally called "a Continuing Revolution," to advocate further spending cuts as Congress debates a budget while the threat of a government shutdown looms. The current Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government funded ends in early April.
But some Senate Democrats have suggested those Tea Party principles are to blame for the current budget stalemate, saying they have led to infighting among House Republicans that is complicating negotiations. Republicans at the rally laid the blame for a potential shutdown square at the feet of Democratic leaders in the Senate.
"House Republicans have run headlong in to Harry Reid. Harry Reid actually took to the floor of the senate and said that our modest down payment on fiscal discipline was reckless, irresponsible, mean-spirited," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told the boisterous crowd. "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."
The audience was energized by talk of a hardened stance with some rally-goers holding signs saying they expect more of Republicans. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., suggested Republicans shouldn't compromise on the budget.
"We are not here to talk about shutting down government, but if you want to know about shutting down the government, go over there and talk to Chuck Schumer, go talk to Harry Reid , go down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and talk to the president," West said. "Why would I want to sit down and compromise with people who enhanced this problem we have in America problem... Why do I want to listen to people like that? Because I don' t think that they're going to give me any good solutions."
This week In a conference call faux pas, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., labeled Tea Party positions on spending "extreme." Thursday afternoon he echoed those comments on the Senate floor as he noted the rally across the street.
"Outside the capitol today, there was a Tea Party rally staged to pressure Republican leaders not to budge off of H.R. 1. They want Speaker Boehner to abandon these talks and hold firm, even if that means a government shutdown on April 8th," Schumer said. "This is a reckless and, yes, extreme position to take."
Schumer added that he believes, unlike the Tea Party, that most Americans don't want a government shutdown. "The tea party may have helped the Republicans win the last election but are not helping the Republicans govern," he said.
But despite Schumer's claims that the Tea Party is out of touch with mainstream America, the speakers at Thursday's rally say they will stick to Tea Party principles.
"We will stand for cutting the size of government," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said to the gathering. We won't change our principles."