Rep. Van Hollen: Wall Street vote shows rift between Tea Party, GOP

The chief campaign strategist for House Democrats thinks the GOP made a strategic error in voting against Wall Street reform.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) made the case that Republicans' widespread opposition to the legislation that passed through both chambers of Congress could damage their chances of capturing the Tea Party movement's full support in the fall midterm elections.

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"They are understandably very suspicious of Washington Republicans because Washington Republicans would love to use them but then not adopt any of their policies and I think the Wall Street reform bill is case and point," Van Hollen said in an appearance on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program.

The Senate approved its Wall Street reform bill on Thursday, with support from only four Republicans. Two Democrats also voted agains the bill, but they argued it did not go far enough in curbing actions by big financial institutions.

The House approved its financial regulatory overhaul late last year with no Republican votes.

The House and Senate must now hold a conference to reconcile differences between the two bills in order to send one version to President Barack Obama. Along with healthcare reform, the Wall Street legislation would represent the second big legislative score for President Barack Obama.

Van Hollen said Wall Street reform is one area where the Tea Party and Democrats have something in common.

"I think a lot of the Tea Party movement is a reflection of the tough economic times we've been through," he said. "I bet if you were to ask members of the Tea Party movement if they wanted to rein in Wall Street...they would say 'yeah, let's rein in Wall Street. Yet not a single Republican in the House voted for Wall Street reform and in the Senate there were only four."

The Tea Party movement has become a growing force in U.S. politics, and its support goes to conservative politicians. But the movment has bucked leaders in both parties.

This week Kentucky Republicans voted to have Rand Paul, a darling of the Tea Party movement, as their Senate candidate instead of a politician backed by the state's GOP establishment, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

Republicans believe they have a shot at winning back the majority of at least one of Congress's chambers this fall, but Democrats believe the Tea Party movement will divide the GOP and help Democrats.

In the wide-ranging interview, Van Hollen repeated a claim he made this week that the GOP will not take back the House this fall, despite their claims that they posses the momentum due to the unpopularity of Democrats' policies.

“I don’t see this as another 1994 at all," he said. "I think we obviously face a very difficult political environment, that is very clear, but is it going to be the kind of wave we saw in 1994? I don’t think so."