By Russell Berman - 03/31/11 06:00 PM EDT
A small but vocal group of Tea Party activists gathered outside the Capitol on Thursday to urge House Republican leaders to hold the line and push for deeper spending cuts in the federal budget.
Chanting, “Cut it or shut it” and “We want less,” the activists directed their ire at Senate Democrats, arguing that the cuts they have demanded are not “extreme,” but necessary to right the nation’s fiscal ship.
Titled the “Continuing Revolution,” the rally was timed to the looming deadline for Congress and the White House to strike a budget deal to avert a government shutdown after April 8.
Numbering no more than a couple hundred people, the rally paled in comparison to the masses of Tea Party activists that have jammed the Capitol grounds and the National Mall in the past. Cold and wet conditions might have dampened the turnout. At its outset, it seemed as if there were nearly as many reporters and camera crews as activists.
Speakers at the rally pushed Republicans to demand at least the $61 billion in cuts the House approved in February, even if meant shutting the government down.
“If it does shut down, just remember: It’s the government’s fault. It’s Congress’s fault,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, the rally organizer.
A parade of conservative members of Congress addressed the rally, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“If Harry Reid wants a fight, let’s give it to him,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said to cheers, referring to the Senate majority leader.
There were repeated calls from the crowd to defund the healthcare law, Planned Parenthood and NPR.