Tea Party on the Debt Deal: 'A Deal, But ... Not a Solution'

PHOTO: Tea Party Roundtable with Diane SawyerPlayMartin H. Simon/ABC News
WATCH Tea Party Freshmen Take on Debt Deal

Newly-elected Tea Party members may be divided on how they are voting on the debt deal, but said they remain united by their principles.

Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., said although the Tea Party is not entirely on the same page, it does not mean members are divided.

"We're in the same book, we're in the same chapter," Guinta told ABC News. "Some might be a little bit farther ahead than others. But we're all going down the road of fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility."

Diane Sawyer spoke with the same group of Tea Party members she sat down with in January, to find out how their expectations compared with reality in Congress and discuss whether the debt debate has caused their caucus to fracture.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said he is "principally voting no" on the debt compromise that would increase the government's borrowing power by up to $2.4 trillion through 2013, and impose nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts in 10 years.

"Imagine that you've got a 1,500-foot hole and a politician walks by and tosses down a 22-foot ladder," he said. "That's what the spending cuts in this bill do for FY-'12."

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., who will likely vote "yes" on the deal, explained that it's not what he wants, but it's better than nothing.

"We don't control the Senate, we don't control the presidency, we have to crawl before we walk to some extent. But I think we've already made some historic gains. We've changed the debate in a historic way. This is the first time we're gonna raise the debt ceiling in our history by imposing more cuts than the raise of the debt ceiling," he said. "I think we have to accept that fact that imposing our will on this president is not an option. ... This president's addicted to spending and limiting him, trying to control that spending as best we can I think is the best fight we can have until 2012."

Guinta also believes the Tea Party will not be able to implement its agenda without victories in the next election.

"We have moved the ball forward significantly. We've changed the debate," he said. "But we need a senate and a president who will join with us. And we don't have that right now."

Regardless of how each member of the Tea Party voted he consensus among them is that the plan reached by Obama and congressional leaders is inadequate.

"I firmly believe this doesn't solve the problem," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. "It's a deal, but it's not a solution. And I think we'll find out in the next few months that it didn't go far enough."

Although they doubt the effectiveness of the compromise that's been reached, they have no doubt that Tea Party members could come together to create and endorse a singular plan, getting others to sign on would be another story.

"If you put this group together in a room, we could reach a decision," said Brooks. This statement was met with affirmation from his Tea Party colleagues.

Seven months ago when the freshmen class swept in on a tidal wave of Tea Party fervor, Sawyer asked them what one word they would use to describe their upcoming term. Here where their responses then:

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) - humbled

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) - expensive

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) - humility

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) - energized

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) - responsibility

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) - gravity

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) -humility

Today, seven months later after a tumultuous first half of the year, the answers have changed.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) - optimistic

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) - humility

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) - opportunity

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) - dysfunctional

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) - frustrated

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) - concerned for my country

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) - principles over compromise

Although the answers are different the sentiment is largely the same.

"We will not spend more than we take in," Guinta said to Sawyer in January. "Our families live by that rule."

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