Nightly News   |  October 01, 2013

How the Tea Party propelled the shutdown

Tea Party members come from some of the most conservative districts in the country, and represent 18 percent of the American population.  NBC News spoke with Rep. Bill Cassidy and Rep. Tim Huelskamp about the shutdown and why they say they won’t budge until Democrats budge on the Affordable Care Act.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you know what is happening right now in washington has been a long time coming. it is being drink by a committed core of republican members of congress who are all but assured of re-election in their districts and just can't be conservative enough for many of the folks back home. this is about the divide in our country, the end of the old chain of command in congress and anger over obama care. our political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd has that part of the story.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, you know, these tea party conservatives helped to propel republicans to take control of the house in 2010 . and these conservatives are the engine behind this current standoff now. the tea party has the president's attention.

>> one faction of one party in one house of congress , in one branch of government shut down major parts of the government. all because they didn't like one law.

>> reporter: the faction is a group of about 80 members of congress, who in august wrote a letter to speaker john boehner urging him to use the budget negotiations as a wedge to reverse the affordable care act .

>> we thought it was important to stand on our principles that since 2010 elections, the republicans are very clear, we don't like obama care, but never had a chance to actually vote on it.

>> reporter: they come from the most conservative districts in the country, on average in 2012 , they captured 65% of the vote in their districts, districts where the president barely cracked 37%. they represent only a third of the republicans in the house and only 18% of the american population.

>> these 80 letter signers in the house come from districts where obama lost 23%. there is no shot they have at holding them accountable for their seats.

>> reporter: he comes from a district where the president didn't even break 20%. he is confident that his supporters will be there during the shutdown.

>> most of the impact happens on their daily lives. they will get their checks.

>> reporter: he came to the area the same year barack obama was sent to the white house . in 2012 , cassidy got 37%, obama 22%, he argues that is not about ideology.

>> blue america , red america , they want the government funded.

>> reporter: both sides they say they won't budge.

>> they should not have a gold plated situation for themselves. this is a battle ground, to make this law less onerous.

>> reporter: brian, they do get a little uncomfortable when they learn they are cashing their paychecks, he hopes to delay it, and not take it.

>> chuck todd , as the sun sets on the u.s. capital .