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Tea Party extremism has me “worried”!: Tammy Baldwin talks to Salon

After seven terms as a progressive Wisconsin congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin joined the Senate in January – becoming the body’s first openly gay member after beating a popular ex-governor who accused her of voting against “honoring the victims of 9/11.” In a Friday interview, she aired her fear of a multi-week shutdown, shared optimism about getting a landmark anti-discrimination bill through the Senate, and declared her opposition to “chained CPI” - a Social Security cut favored by the president. What follows is a condensed version of our conversation.

Why is this shutdown happening now?

The reason for the shutdown is that the Speaker of the House of Representatives refuses to put before the House a funding resolution that the Senate sent over last Friday, which would pass, I believe, with bipartisan support if he were to put it up for a vote.

Do you expect that to happen in the near future?

I’m worried...We have another deadline looming: the October 17 deadline for needing to lift the debt ceiling...I fear that some of the Tea Party-inspired members of the House want to wait until that deadline comes to exact greater leverage for their political agenda.

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