WASHINGTON -- In the midst of tense negotiations over the nation's debt ceiling, an all-star cast of Republican lawmakers addressed a Tea Party rally held adjacent to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, calling for GOP leaders to "hold the line" against plans without a balanced budget amendment.
The rally, organized by the Tea Party Express and American Grassroots Coalition and attended by roughly 75 supports and press, featured GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), as well as Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Their message to the Republican leadership: bring back Cut, Cap and Balance, a House-passed bill to raise the debt ceiling that failed in the Senate earlier this month. As lawmakers struggle to find a deal to increase the debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline, Tea Partiers have stuck to Cut, Cap and Balance, which has major spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment, as the ideal path forward.
But the House GOP leadership put forward another plan, presented earlier this week by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). That plan, in a sop to Tea Partiers, included a requirement for a vote on a balanced budget amendment, but would not require passage of the amendment -- falling short in the eyes of some far-right lawmakers.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said on Wednesday that the Boehner plan also cuts too little, after the Congressional Budget Office reported on Tuesday evening that the bill would cut less than expected.
"If we can keep cutting one trillion dollars every 10 years, then in 150 years we can balance the budget," Gohmert joked.
GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain made a surprise appearance, stopping by to talk to reporters and supporters but skipping the stage. He said he is still unsure how he feels about the Boehner plan, adding he thinks the debt limit need not be raised to avoid default.
"I don't know enough details about it because it keeps moving," Cain told reporters. "That's the problem with it, it keeps changing. I support the concept of the balanced budget amendment."
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) said he could not support the Boehner plan because it does not require passage of the balanced budget amendment. Still, he said his leadership deserved support.
"Give John Boehner, give Eric Cantor all of the credit in the world," Walsh told the crowd. "But embolden them. Let them know that the American people are ready for a real reform. They need your help."
Photos from Wednesday's rally are below:
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