The Tea Party holds no seat in Congress, but at least 10,000 of the party’s members descended on Capitol Hill Thursday to rally against a Democratic-written health care overhaul.
A plan first hatched and heralded on FOX by iconic conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) grew over the weekend as she e-mailed with a handful of colleagues. By the time activists started arriving at the foot of the Capitol around 8:30 a.m., it was clear no Republican leader could stay away.
Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican Whip Eric Cantor and Conference Chairman Mike Pence all spoke.
Inside, Democrats were working to finalize a trillion-dollar health care bill that they say will deliver insurance to tens of millions of Americans who currently lack it, improve the quality of care and rein in costs both for individuals and the government.
Outside, on the grassy lawn just steps from where Barack Obama took the oath of office, an endless lineup of rank-and-file lawmakers and conservative All Stars – Bachmann, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, actor Jon Voigt and Mark Levin, author of “Liberty and Tyranny” – demanded that the health care bill be torn asunder.
“Madam Speaker, throw out this bill,” bellowed Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.).
“Oh come on, tell them how you really feel,” Bachmann yelled to the crowd from a temporary podium at the foot of the Capitol.
“Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!” the crowd replied.
“That’s exactly what you’re going to tell them,” said Bachmann, who was the clear favorite of the assembled masses.
“She has more cojones than a lot of guys
,” said Barbara McGrath, who traveled from Troy, Ohio, to participate.