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Rand Paul says Tea Party already changing Washington

Rand PaulNewly elected senator Rand Paul says the Tea Party movement is already changing the way Washington thinks by pushing the nation's high debt and the need for spending cuts to the top of the national debate.

Paul, elected last week to a Kentucky Senate seat, is one of the most prominent Republicans backed by the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement.

"The Tea Party is actually co-opting Washington," he said Sunday on ABC's This Week. "We're proud. We're strong, we're loud. ... We're already shaping the debate."

In a difference with some of his GOP colleagues, Paul said he would consider cuts to the military. Pressed repeatedly by host Christiane Amanpour to get specific, Paul replied "everything is on the table" and "the devil is in the details."

But he laid down some markers for discussion: cuts to growth in Social Security spending, a freeze on hiring new federal workers and a 10% pay cut for those already working for the government, and an end to funding of lawmakers' pet projects known as earmarks. Paul also said he'll push for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.

If there's a Tea Party caucus in the Senate, it's unclear whether it would include another new Republican elected last week with support from the movement.

Pat Toomey, the GOP senator-elect from Pennsylvania, said on CNN's State of the Union that he would "consider" joining such a caucus. (A Tea Party caucus, founded by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was formed in the House last year.)

"These are ordinary Americans who love this country" and who are worried about the future, Toomey said, adding that he's "sympathetic" to Tea Party concerns.

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