Nov. 7, 2010— -- Newly elected, tea party-supported Republican members of Congress warned fellow Republicans today that they are already "shaping the debate" and ushering in a new spirit among the party.
With the incoming Congress adding a staggering 66 more Republicans -- many of them backed by the conservative tea party movement -- a number of controversial issues await, with the economy and the war in Afghanistan at the forefront.
Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul today made it clear that the tea party-backed winners have arrived, and are in no mood to compromise.
"We're coming," Paul said. "We're -- we're proud. We're strong. We're loud. And we're going to co-opt. And, in fact, I think we're already shaping the debate."
Pat Toomey, Senator-elect from Pennsylvania, today rallied his supporters, asserting that the public made it clear on Tuesday who they want running the country.
"The voters have spoken, I think, very clearly about the need to rein in this government," Toomey said. "So I'm hoping we'll have a new spirit among Republicans in Congress."
As history has shown that insurrection political movements are either co-opted by the mainstream or eventually end up taking over, the question must be asked: Are the tea partiers now the Republican party?
Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C, who backed a number of tea party candidates, said that notion may be overblown.
"Hardly," DeMint said. "I'm hoping the Republican Party will embrace a lot of the ideas of the tea party. The tea party was responsible for just about every Republican elected."
But battle lines seem to be appearing between the tea party's agenda, which includes no increase in the national debt and a complete ban on Congressional earmarks -- items in a budget directed to a member of Congressman's district, and what Republican leaders see as feasible.
"It's a lot more complicated than it appears," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "The problem is it doesn't save any money. It's an argument about discretion."
How Much Power Does the Tea Party Wield?
So exactly how much power does the strengthened tea party actually wield? While the words were tough today, exactly where the tea party stands is still unclear.
"The question is just how much are they going to flex their muscles," ABC News Political Director Amy Walter said. "How much power do they really have, and what influence did they want to have in the leadership?"
There is, however, one thing that most Republicans -- tea party or otherwise -- agree on, and in fact they are rejoicing over: the idea that Nancy Pelosi will remain the Democratic leader.
"If Democratic members in the House elect Nancy Pelosi as their leader, it's almost as if they just didn't get the message from the voters this election," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.