Tea Party Freshman: GOP Leadership Hasn't Yet Figured Us Out

02/10/2011 01:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The past few days have been a bit of a challenge, if not an embarrassment, for Republican House leadership as votes on seemingly-destined-to-pass pieces of legislation have been tripped up by procedural mismanagement.

The inability to pass a bill that would involve the United Nations repaying funds to the U.S., coupled with the earlier failure to extend some provisions from the Patriot Act, have given the impression of intraparty fractiousness. And while GOP leadership has tried to play down that development -- which The New York Times called "a mini-revolt" -- on Thursday, one of the Tea Party members bucking his party admitted that GOP lawmakers are not yet all on the same page.

"You are seeing that the freshmen understand where they want to go, and we understand the things we want to accomplish," Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), told The Huffington Post. "I think the media is making a mistake saying that we are in conflict with our leadership. We are not. We are just kind of feeling each other out right now and I think the leadership is understanding that we are serious about the things we want to accomplish."

Labrador was one of 26 Republican members who voted against the Patriot Act extensions. And he hinted that he was also pushing, in private, for Republican leadership to delay announcing budget cuts, in hopes of making those cuts steeper -- a delay that was granted on Thursday morning.

Explaining the role he and other Tea Party freshmen have played this week, Labrador, who had just completed a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, laid out a fairly unfavorable contrast between the old and new blood inside the Republican tent.

"[The freshmen] who came to Washington were people who actually believe in something," said the Idaho Republican. "They are not just here because they wanted to be elected officials."