Virginia Tea Party activists this weekend turned up the pressure on House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) over the speed at which the GOP-led Congress is looking to cut spending.
Leaders of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation issued a tough statement on Sunday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, calling on Cantor to make deeper cuts to the budget at a faster pace.
The group's comments are a sign that the GOP base is growing more restless as lawmakers on Capitol Hill struggle to hammer out an agreement over a bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.
Lawmakers must pass a plan, or a stopgap measure, by the end of this week to avoid a government shutdown — something some Tea Party activists have said they would not mind seeing.
A House GOP proposal to cut $61 billion from last year's spending levels failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate last week, prompting Democratic leaders to call on Republicans to meet them in the middle.
But the Virginia Tea Party group criticized Cantor for voting against an amendment to the proposal that would have tacked on an additional $22 billion in cuts. The vote divided Republican congressional leaders: Cantor and Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) voted against it, while conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) voted for it.
Megan Whittemore, a press secretary for Cantor, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that House Republicans plan to offer a bold budget proposal with significant spending cuts, but explained that Democratic votes are needed to pass any proposal.
"In the current debate over the continuing resolution, the House passed the single largest spending cut in modern history, significantly larger than those passed by then-Speaker [Newt] Gingrich [R-Ga.] and the '95 Republican majority," she said. "In the coming weeks, we will present a budget that includes even more cuts and will address insolvent entitlement programs which are the largest drivers of our debt. There is a lot of work to be done, and Republicans will continue to lead the effort to cut government spending, but we will need Democrats to join us so these House-passed measures can become law."
Jamie Radtke, a Virginia Tea Party activist running in the commonwealth's GOP Senate primary, urged leaders to take a principled stance.
"Why not take the principled stance … let's show what true limited constitutional government looks like," she said. "This is a prime opportunity for the leadership in the House to put down a plan that people can see, a vision for America that people can grab and say, 'This is how we turn it around.' "