Senate leaders “clashed over the Tea Party Thursday morning in anticipation of a boisterous demonstration that conservative activists have planned outside the Capitol later in the day,” The Hill reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tea Party activists and affiliated members of Congress threaten to disrupt negotiations over spending levels for the rest of 2011.
“I’m sure it’s not easy trying to negotiate with the Tea Party screaming in their ears,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We have a lot more work to do.
Reid said Tea Party members are pressing for “unreasonable” and “unrealistic” spending cuts that will impact middle-class families, students, teachers, nurses and police officers.
“We can’t have what’s going on here with the Tea Party demonstrating, all these very harsh cuts with unrealistic riders, punishing innocent folks just for political ideology,” he said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defended the Tea Party from Democratic attacks.
In a floor speech, McConnell said the Tea Party has been vilified for “politely asking lawmakers here in Washington to change the way things are done around here.”
“Despite the Democrat leadership’s talking points, these folks are not radicals, they are our next-door neighbors and our friends,” McConnell said. “By and large, they are housewives, professionals, students, parents and grandparents.”