Will Tea Party Turn Senate Into Fight Club?
Senate may not be able to get anything done, critics fear
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2010 9:17 AM CDT
"What I'm encouraged about most is that I don't have to be the contentious person all by myself any longer," says Jim DeMint, pictured here at a CPAC event.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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(Newser) – At a recent Senate Republican Conference, Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson pointed to Jim DeMint and announced, “I’m coming to join the fight, not the club.” Johnson, like DeMint, plans to throw up roadblocks in front of any legislation that doesn’t meet his approval, and he’s not alone. Many Tea Party candidates have promised to do the same—Rand Paul, for instance, says he’ll block any spending bill that doesn’t help balance the budget.

At least some Tea Partiers will win, and that might be enough to destroy the Senate, one Rutgers professor tells the Wall Street Journal, because the rules of the institution rely on collegiality. “The Senate is fundamentally a 'unanimous consent' institution,” agrees one Congressional Research Service specialist; unanimous consent is needed to end discussion of a bill, allow a vote, or limit time spent on a bill. But the Tea Partiers contend that consent and collegiality are parts of the problem, since they allow earmarks and special interest provisions to flourish.