Armey urges Tea Party activists to press Nelson on health careby George Bennett | October 6th, 2009
Armey, chairman of the Washington-based FreedomWorks group that has helped coordinate Tea Party protests, said conservative activists must continue to fight against an expanded government role in health care and then prepare for a fight on a cap-and-trade environmental bill.
“We’ve got the bad guys on the run,” Armey told a crowd of about 150 that crammed the patio of the Yard House restaurant.
“We have given the massive great big government takeover of health care a TKO for the time being. But they’re not going to go away empty handed,” Armey said.
Armey said if Democrats lack the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster in the Senate, they might try to use a rare parliamentary procedure called budget reconciliation to limit debate and “cram this down our throats” with a simple majority of 51 votes.
Armey urged activists to pressure Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson not to support the reconciliation approach. If he does, Armey said, “he’s going to be in big trouble in the polls. It’s not right.”
In response to a question about the reconciliation issue, Nelson aide Madeline Otto said Nelson “prefers a bipartisan bill.”
Armey is scheduled to visit Miami tonight and Fort Myers on Wednesday to meet with Tea Party activists. In an interview, Armey called the Tea Party movement “the biggest spontaneous grass-roots uprising I’ve ever observed.”
Critics have pointed to the involvement of lawmaker-turned-lobbyist Armey and FreedomWorks to argue the Tea Party movement is a manufactured phenomenon.
But Armey said FreedomWorks merely offers help to activists who have already formed groups in their own communities.
“Real people — people we’ve never heard of before…found us and they would address questions to us,” Armey said. “So we gave them what you would call technical assistance and advice. But they put the groups together in their own home towns with their e-mail lists and with whatever communications. This is the most viral thing I’ve ever seen.”