Harry Reid: Americans don't care about the Tea Party

Nevada Senator Harry Reid AP Photo

Nevada Senator Harry Reid
Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
AP Photo
As Republicans and Democrats continue their tussle over the federal budget, Republicans are paying too much heed to the Tea Party -- even though the rest of the nation has soured on the conservative movement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid charged today.

Speaking on the Senate floor today, Reid cited a new CNN poll showing that the Tea Party is viewed just as negatively as the Republican or the Democratic parties, the Washington Post reports. Reid said Republicans shouldn't let "let the Tea Party call the shots" in the budget negotiations.

"The people who care about the Tea Party are a very small number who care about them positively," Reid said. "Those who care about them negatively is very high; it's 50 percent."

In the CNN poll, 47 percent said they had a negative opinion of the Tea Party while 32 percent said they had a positive opinion and 14 percent had no opinion. Both the Democratic and Republican parties received 48 percent unfavorable ratings.

As the two parties continue to butt heads over the budget, they are laying the blame on each other in anticipation of a possible government shutdown. Government operations will come to a halt if a budget for the rest of the fiscal year is not passed by April 8. Democrats have been doggedly arguing this week that House Republicans are too beholden to the Tea Party.

In fact, it is the more conservative elements of the House Republican caucus that are in part holding up the passage of a budget bill. Ten House Republican freshmen rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reports, to protest the Senate's lack of action on the budget. They said they would accept no less than the $61 billion in spending cuts the GOP-led House already passed.

"We will not settle a split-the-baby strategy," Rep. Martha Roby (R., Ala.) said. "We want real cuts."

Roby and 30 other House freshmen sent a letter today to Reid saying they'll rally on the steps of the Capitol every day until the Senate passes a budget bill.

"The House heard the calls of the American people and offered $61 billion in cuts, but the Senate has not sent us a Continuing Resolution in return," the letter says. "We have received nothing from the Senate except denials of the dire straits of our nation's fiscal health."

Meanwhile, House leaders said today they'll pass a symbolic bill on Friday to try and press the Senate to act.

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