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Tea party vies for seats at House GOP's table

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

(Read caption) House Republican leaders John Boehner of Ohio (r.) and Eric Cantor of Virginia talk to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington Nov. 3.

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Breaking with tradition, GOP leaders announced Tuesday that they'll give a larger role than usual on the influential House Steering Committee to freshman lawmakers swept into office on the Republican wave last Tuesday.

The move is an apparent nod to the conservative tea party wing of American conservatives, which provided a boost of energy and passion to help put Republicans over the top in the House, rejiggering national political dynamics in the process. Likely House Speaker John Boehner and whip Eric Cantor said in a letter delivered Tuesday they'll seat a freshman legislator at the leadership table and give an additional seat to a freshman on the Steering Committee.

IN PICTURES: Tea Parties

But as tea party champions such as Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina also vie for more prominent roles within the party structure, the GOP faces an internal conundrum: How much rope do they give to the 18-month-old movement that espouses a return to "constitutional government" by slashing federal spending, even at the risk of Congressional budget deadlock?

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