News / USA

    Tea Party Big Loser in Budget Battle

    Tea Party supporters gather for a rally outside the IRS headquarter in Washington, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo)
    Tea Party supporters gather for a rally outside the IRS headquarter in Washington, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo)
    There was a bit of a sea change in Washington this week.  The Republican-controlled House of Representatives easily passed a $1.1 trillion budget bill that will keep the government funded through September.  Yes, the very same Republican House that led last October’s 16 day government shutdown that was hugely unpopular with voters.
     
    Republicans got the lion’s share of the blame for the shutdown and it looks as though Republican congressional leaders got the message.  House Speaker John Boehner started blasting some independent conservative groups last month that had supported the shutdown, and it was clear that a national shift in public opinion about the Tea Party was having an impact.
     
    This budget deal is a compromise.  Democrats are happy about more money for social welfare programs like Head Start and food aid for poor pregnant women.  The government will no longer be under the sequester cuts imposed last year when lawmakers could not reach an agreement.  Republicans are pleased with cuts to some agencies including the Internal Revenue Service as well as foreign aid programs.  They will be able to run re-election campaigns touting a rollback in government spending in general over the past several years.
     
    So who’s unhappy?  Tea Party supporters in Congress.  166 House Republicans supported the budget bill while 64 voted no.  Last October, those 64 were among the leaders of the effort to shut down the government over objections to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

    To be sure, Republicans will continue to hammer away at the Affordable Care Act this year in the run up to the midterm congressional elections in November.  And the Tea Party will remain a force in Republican primary battles this year.  No incumbent wants to face a Tea Party challenger backed by conservative fundraising machines like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America.
     
    But there is no question that last year’s government shutdown hurt the image of the Republican Party with the public, and mainstream Republicans are now moving to limit the influence of the Tea Party movement without losing the support of their fervent followers.  It will remain a delicate dance.
     
    Christie’s troubles provide opening for 2016 rivals
     
    So which Republican White House hopefuls are helped by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s ‘Bridgegate’ scandal?  It’s clearly too early to know for sure and much will depend on what, if anything, comes out in the weeks to come.  If Christie is backed up in his claim that he knew nothing about his aides orchestrating traffic problems on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, apparently as an act of political retaliation, he might be able to emerge as a still viable presidential contender in 2016.
     
    But if information comes to light that Christie knew more about the bridge issue than he acknowledged it could damage his White House prospects beyond repair.  The governor tried to change the subject with his recent State of the State address focused on education reform and bipartisanship.  But the legislative probes into ‘Bridgegate’ are getting underway and it’s likely the governor will come under media scrutiny for months.

    We are now in the early stages of the kind of ‘drip, drip’ scandal that politicians hate.  For Christie’s potential rivals for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination, this is a great time to lie low and let the story play out.  Among those likely enjoying the drama most is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.  Paul gives a lot of indications of running two years from now and has clashed with Christie in the past over spending.  Last year he called Christie “the king of bacon” in the wake of the governor’s efforts to secure federal help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
     
    The latest NBC News/Marist poll shows Christie is still at the top of the list of potential Republican candidates for 2016 at 16 percent.  That’s only down slightly from last month when he was at 18 percent.  Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan follows at 12 percent and Senator Rand Paul is at 9 percent.  One candidate who has dropped more than anyone else in the past month is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a big supporter of last year’s government shutdown.  Cruz was at 10 percent last month but has dropped to only 5 percent in the latest survey.
     
    Cruz’s rating may have taken a hit because of the negative fallout from the government shutdown.  In a perfect world for Chris Christie, that might make him more appealing to Republican voters in 2016 looking for a candidate with a proven record of bipartisanship.  But until Christie can get out from under the shadow of the traffic scandal, he’ll have to hope that Republican voters at the very least suspend their judgment for a while as to how worthy a presidential contender he might be.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora