After members of Congress were called back to Washington for a Tuesday vote, Rep. Michele Bachmann corralled together seven others from her Tea Party Caucus to lambast the state aid bill with a town hall by phone.
Bachmann’s Monday night tele-town hall — which her office said had more than 1 million people who signed up to receive a call — was a chance for the Minnesota Republican to sound her rallying cry against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in front of a friendly audience.
Calling the event “historic,” Bachmann claimed that Tuesday’s vote was a “shell game” for the Democrats to boost union coffers for the election.
“We as members of Congress are literally outraged that Speaker Pelosi is spending your money and essentially laundering it as cash for a Democratic reelection program,” Bachmann said.
The bill that House members will vote on Tuesday gives $16 billion to extend Medicaid payments to states and $10 billion to local school districts. It passed the Senate last week.
Democrats say will save more than 2,300 education jobs in Minnesota. But Bachmann said that it’s extra money unions can put toward political action committees.
Of the dozen or so callers who asked questions during the two-hour town hall, all were seemingly friendly to the Tea Party message, asking about topics like repealing the health care bill, cutting taxes, and abolishing the Department of Education.
Several polls were taken of listeners, including one where 75 percent who responded said they thought the Tea Party should be in charge of Congress. Another poll found 95 percent of listeners believed Tuesday’s bill would harm the economy.
But with the somewhat unpredictable town hall format, several questions went beyond comments on policy— to say the least — as one caller claimed Pelosi had a drinking problem, and another said he didn’t understand “how a Muslim can become president when his home is in Kenya.”
None of the seven Republicans attending corrected the callers, though they ignored rather than entertained the false statements.
It’s expected that the Democrats will pass the $26 billion bill Tuesday, but Bachmann hoped that she would be able to blunt any momentum they could gain from it.
“They may win their vote,” Bachmann said after the town hall, “but I think there may be some backlash for a vote like this.”