The Senate Rules Committee reportedly blocked the Tea Party Debt Commission from unveiling its budget proposal at the Capitol Thursday, with staff members removing microphones and locking doors to the room where the group was set to present its findings.
FreedomWorks, the organization that organized the "months-long, crowd-sourced effort" among Tea Party members to develop a budget proposal, said in a release that the scheduled, pre-approved informal hearing was suddenly canceled. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) chairs the committee. Participants relocated to Hillsdale College's Kirby Center, a few blocks from the Capitol.
"The Senate hasn’t been able to pass a budget resolution three years running. They have been unable to do their job, and now the Rules Committee is trying to prevent the American people from doing it for them," Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said in a release.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had sponsored the hearing so the debt commission's findings could be publicly unveiled. He expressed his anger and frustration over the Rules Committee's move on his Twitter page, referring to how the committee "tried to shut us down" and how "we were kicked out."
Slate provided this explanation of what happened, including whether calling the event a "hearing" may have been the cause of the problem:
The press release had called the event a "hearing." Sen. Mike Lee, who had participated in some hearings in Utah, was all set to kick the proceedings off. But he was told that calling the event a "hearing" put it outside the rules. That, plus a (totally unrelated) scare over a suspicious package at Jeff Sessions's office in Russell, meant that people showing up for the event saw a bunch of Capitol police securing the hallway, and taking placards off the tables in the room.
According to FreedomWorks, the "Tea Party Budget" was compiled by a commission of 12 volunteer Tea Party activists based on the results of an online poll completed by nearly 50,000 Americans and events held around the country.
"We’ve come to Washington with the real solutions developed by the American people, and the Rules Committee won’t let their voices be heard in an open forum," Kibbe said. "It’s outrageous. They’re kicking us out of our own building because they’re afraid we are going to do something crazy like balance the budget."
Freedom Works posted this video of Thursday's events:
The congressional supercommittee is tasked with reaching a deficit deal by Nov. 23 or risk triggering a series of automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion.