Republicans elected to Congress with the help of Tea Party support pledged Sunday to devote themselves to balancing the budget over all else when they start their new jobs on Wednesday. 

In the lead-up to the next session, Tea Party freshmen and activists have expressed disappointment at the legislation passed by Congress in the waning days of the post-election lame-duck session. The bipartisan package to extend the Bush-era tax cuts was seen by some conservatives as a flawed deal that failed to bury the estate tax and make permanent the income tax rates of the past decade. At the same time, critics assailed the package for containing billions in new deficit spending. 

Tea Party candidates said Sunday they hope to change the culture of spending in Washington as they prepare to get sworn in this week. They said Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, earmarks and other items will all be on the table for serious reform. They warned their more experienced colleagues to hold back on the deficit spending once they come into office. 

“It’s time to once and for all … stop perpetually spending money we don’t have and sending the bill to unborn generations of Americans,” Sen.-elect Mike Lee of Utah told “Fox News Sunday.” 

Lee said the $858 billion package passed by Congress at the end of 2010 demonstrated the need for a balanced-budget amendment, which he said he will propose.

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