Washington Examiner

Tea Party clashes with GOP establishment over defense
Washington Examiner

The tension between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party insurgents erupted on the House floor for the first time Wednesday when 110 GOP representatives — mostly freshmen and some longtime conservative gadflies — broke from their leadership and most of their caucus in order to kill a defense contract. The vote highlighted an establishment-versus-Tea Party split that was glaring during the campaign season, and brought to the fore the uncomfortable question of defense spending. The amendment, killing the contract for a backup engine for the F-35 fighter, passed 233-198 Wednesday.

Libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul, a hero in large corners of the GOP base, put it well at last week’s Conservative Political Action Committee: « Military spending and defense spending are not the same thing. » Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., proposed three amendments Tuesday to cut military spending that he said had no relation to defense.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., whose conservative credentials are not in question, is on board with Paul and Flake in trying to trim military fat. He’s advocated ending the National Guard’s involvement in local anti-drug enforcement.