Tea party activists are pressing for a do-nothing lame-duck Congress.
Lawmakers are slated to return the Tuesday after Election Day for a session that is likely to take up expiring Bush-era tax cuts, a farm bill, mandatory spending cuts, as well as a reduction in Medicare payments to doctors.
Tea party groups are laying the groundwork for a grass-roots lobbying campaign to stop Congress from doing much of anything before newly elected lawmakers come to town in January.
The head of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest and most vocal tea party groups, pledged today to fight any measure that attempts to avoid the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, without an alternate savings plan.
“If they just roll back the sequester with no other cuts, we will take a stand,” said Jenny Beth Martin, a leader of the Patriots, who was in Washington, D.C., this week for meetings. “We have to look at the whole budget, not just little pieces.”
The White House today released a report detailing how the sequester would be implemented, which will likely add political urgency to Congressional efforts to avoid the reductions that hit early next year, especially the $55 billion in cuts to the Pentagon budget.
The House on Thursday passed the latest effort to address the sequester: a Republican bill requiring the president to submit to Congress by Oct. 15 a plan to replace the defense cuts with other spending reductions, excluding revenue increases.
Martin, like many tea party activists, is also opposed to passing a new farm bill.
The small government advocacy group FreedomWorks is preparing a similar lame-duck advocacy effort.
The organization plans to launch a voter education website next week called StopTheFiscalCliff.com, wagering that the threat of a series of Congressional votes on taxes and spending in December will energize voters on Election Day.
“It will alert them to how high the stakes are if we continue the status quo,” said Dean Clancy, legislative counsel and vice president for health care policy at FreedomWorks.
The group will oppose any effort to roll back the sequester, as well as the farm bill and the so-called “doc fix” that lawmakers have passed year after year to avert scheduled cuts to physicians who treat Medicare patients.
Martin will spend the next several weeks on a nationwide get-out-the-vote tour. Tea Party Patriots has distributed more than $1 million in grants to 146 local chapters for voter mobilization activities, she said.
But, Martin said she did not want to hit the trail before consulting with conservative allies on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
While she wasn’t thrilled that the House also passed a continuing resolution on Thursday funding the government through March, at least 70 Republicans voted against it, Martin noted.
“I was worried it would be less than 10,” she said.