Tea Party holding America hostage with extreme views, says freshman senator

“It’s a small minority — you can call them Tea Party or whatever you want — but it’s a small minority holding the House hostage, and that means holding America hostage," continued the junior senator from Connecticut. "They’re threatening havoc in the American economy and it’s an ideologically driven, extreme view as well as a highly inconsistent one.”

In the interview, Blumenthal reflected on his first year in the Senate, a year punctuated by four near-government shutdowns and countless acrimonious fights over spending, saying the partisan atmosphere had caught him by surprise.

“I’ve been frustrated because so much of the top-line issues have been dominated by partisan wrangling and friction,” he said.

But Blumenthal said his top solution to the partisan gridlock, which will likely continue to characterize the 112th Congress, is to diminish Republicans' power by by stripping them of their ability to block Democratic proposals by filibuster — a move that would almost certainly spin the Senate into even deeper partisan strife.

“My first vote in the Senate was to eliminate the filibuster and end the 60-vote rule,” Blumenthal said in the interview. "[I]t is a cause of paralysis. No other legislative body in the world, so far as I know, requires 60 votes to do business. It should be changed."