Eight years ago, Republican newcomers seized the House majority. They promised tax and spending cuts, and vowed to roll back what they called then-President Barack Obama’s overreach. That era, The Associated Press reported Sunday, is long gone.
“So, too, are almost half the 87 new House Republicans elected in the biggest GOP wave since the 1920s,” the report stated.
Included on the AP list of tea party alumni are Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who made their way into the executive branch. Others from the group became senators or dropped out of politics. This year, nearly a dozen so-called tea party House Republicans are retiring.
But as that movement fades, a new push comes into view. The control of the House is at stake in this fall’s election. About three dozen from the so-called tea party movement are seeking re-election, the report states.
The tea party movement was marked by, among other things, yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and anti-Obamacare rallies.
What started as a revolt now “shows the limits of riding a campaign wave into the reality of governing,” according to the AP.
Some Republicans took offense with the tea party label, partly because it was branded by Obama and the media. In some circles it also took on the crass nickname "tea bagger."
“We weren’t who you all said we were,” Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) told the AP.
What’s a better name?
Scott prefers to think of it as a group of small business owners trying to stop the ever-growing federal government. The Republican lawmakers wanted to work with Obama, but felt disengaged, he said.
“We didn’t come to take over the country,” Scott said in the report.
But they paved their own way and, in the process, probably cleared the stage for the rise of Donald Trump.
The goals of the so-called Tea Party Republicans were outlined in a 21-page “Pledge to America.” The manifesto was drafted by House Republican leadership and listed goals such as “stop out of control spending,” ″reform Congress” and “end economic uncertainty,” the report stated.
They also “forced Congress into making drastic spending cuts, in part by threatening to default on the nation’s debt, turning a once-routine vote to raise the U.S. borrowing limit into a cudgel during the annual budget fights,” AP reported.
The group “halted environmental, consumer and workplace protection rules, and that rollback continues today.”
Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told the AP every movement “goes through phases.”
But don’t expect the tea party to go completely away anytime soon, Martin said.
The group plans to elect the next “Tea Party 100” members of the house, she said. And it’s looking for established politicians to carry out the mission.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) was also part of the 2010 tea party movement. Now a senator, Scott said it's OK if the tea party label is now a part of history.
Actions, he said, are more important than labels and that means “promises made should be promises kept.”