‘Defiant’ Tea Party a major factor in fiscal cliff talks

Huelskamp and AmashAfter Mark Twain’s demise was incorrectly reported in a 1907 New York Times obituary, he wrote the following day, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” So too with the Tea Party.

After the Tea Party helped propel roughly 50 conservatives to Congress and give the GOP the majority in the House, pundits, especially those from the Left, have proclaimed the Tea Party to be on the throes of death. A lot of people have bought into this notion. But like Twain more than a century earlier, those reports are premature.

This is especially evident in recent weeks with the fiscal cliff negotiations. In fact, their muscle-flexing has already made a difference in the talks. According to a Fox News report:

Just last week they squashed Boehner’s fiscal plan by refusing to compromise and vote on a tax increase for any American, despite the House speaker — in his so-called “Plan B” — having suggested extending tax cuts only for those making more than $1 million annually.

And their most powerful vote might be yet to come, should Tea Party-backed House members reject a possible Senate proposal over the next two days to extend tax cuts and perhaps avert massive federal spending cuts that start January 1.

It’s not just House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is aware of the role the Tea Party Caucus is playing.

“They lost in November, rather resoundingly, but still appearing to be doubling down,” a Democratic strategist told Fox News on Saturday.

To be sure, perhaps the most visible of the Tea Party conservatives elected in 2010 — Rep. Allen West of Florida — was defeated in a squeaker last November. But others remain, and Boehner seems to have sent them an implicit message.

It wasn’t quite a Godfather-style horse’s-head-under-the-sheets-moment, but the meaning nonetheless seemed clear: “Do as I say or I’ll make your time here irrelevant.” Key committee assignments disappeared for three Tea Party House members: Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, David Schweikert of Arizona, and Justin Amash of Michigan.

Two of the members — Huelskamp and Amash — spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity in the following video.

Read more at Fox News.


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