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Congress: The Tea Party caucus' no-shows

The Washington Post: "The Republican senators who rode the tea party wave to victory in the fall are now weighing whether that label will help them on Capitol Hill or become a scarlet letter. Thursday offered the first clear illustration of their situation as the newly formed Senate Tea Party Caucus held its inaugural meeting without three of the senators who won election under the tea party banner." The three: Ron Johnson (WI), Marco Rubio (FL), and Pat Toomey (PA).

“Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a founding member of the Senate's Tea Party Caucus, has pledged to filibuster legislation to increase the debt ceiling,” The Hill reports. “Lee said a filibuster could be averted only if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) reach an agreement to pass a balanced-budget amendment through the Senate.”

The Senate passed two new rules yesterday that could affect the speed of legislation: “The two resolutions eliminate “secret” holds on nominations and waive the reading of amendments that have been publicly available for at least 72 hours. They easily surpassed the 60-vote threshold required for adoption,” Roll Call writes. “Three other resolutions to change the rules regarding filibusters, or procedures that have been used to block or slow down the legislative process, were rejected Thursday. Those measures would have reduced the vote threshold for ending a filibuster after further debate, ended the use of filibusters to block legislation from coming to the Senate floor, and required Senators to hold the floor in order to continue a filibuster. They needed the support of two-thirds of Senators present and voting in order to pass.”

Meghan McCain called Michelle Bachmann “a poor man’s Sarah Palin.”

Gallup for the first time since 2005 has the GOP viewed as a net-positive – 47%-43%. That’s different, however, from the latest NBC/WSJ poll, which showed Republicans a net-negative – 34%-40%. 

Jason Chaffetz took back his criticism of Michelle Bachmann’s response to the State of the Union: He said, “My primary concern with Congresswoman Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) speech was the timing of it relative to Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) official response to the President’s State of the Union address. I felt at the time the proximity of her speech was too near Chairman Ryan’s official response. I have since learned that the timing of Congresswoman Bachmann’s address was not simultaneous to Chairman Ryan’s official response.”