Political Tempest: Tea Party Shakes Up Republican Party

Tea Party members siding with Democrats to flub Republican-led initiatives is a growing concern.

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Republican House leaders leave the White House.

News agency AFP is examining how the Republican Party will respond to a series of surprise setbacks, some suffered at the hands of their own "archconservative political shock troops" in the Tea Party. "We're in a new era," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, shrugging off his woes as the new majority's growing pains. "That means that the leaders may not get what they want every day." While Republicans claim they are winning the "war" on slashing government, individual battles have resulted in some embarrassing high-profile setbacks for the party as a whole.

For example, the House of Representatives on Tuesday defeated an extension of high-profile surveillance powers designed to thwart extremist attacks, partially because many Tea Party members sided with Democrats in opposing the measure. The House failed Wednesday to approve a bill demanding the return of surplus U.S. payment into an obscure U.N. account -- a measure Republicans had touted as a symbol of their resolve to cut government outlays. On Thursday, a Tea Party insurrection forced Republican leaders back to the drawing board when the fired-up activists rebelled against a spending blueprint that they said fell short of drastic austerity steps they promised in last year's campaign.

While Republicans are hawking Democrats, perhaps they should keep an eye on some of their own. The Tea Party is a political tempest indeed, and they spare no one, including their fellow Republicans, whom many believe aren't conservative enough on anything. It will be interesting to see how this growing chasm develops.

Read more at AFP.