After the 2012 US elections, it seemed the far-right wing of the Republican party was weakening. Several supporters of the Tea Party lost their seats in the House of Representatives.
Mitt Romney's election defeat unleashed a debate among Republicans over who was to blame. Moderates insisted it was time for the party to work on expanding their base. Tea Party members called for an even more conservative agenda.
Those faultlines have once again been highlighted as members of Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week.
First there was the fiscal cliff, which saw a division between Republican leaders in the House of Representatives almost derailing the deal.
Wary of asking conservatives for more spending, House speaker John Boehner refused to bring to a vote critical storm relief funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. It was only after Republicans from New York and New Jersey threatened to vote against his re-appointment as speaker that Boehner backtracked.
On Friday a smaller version of the legislation was passed.
Then there was the Violence Against Women Act, which historically has had strong bipartisian support. Despite passing in the Senate with a strong majority, House Republicans did not even bring the bill to a vote after the law was changed to include Native American and illegal immigrant victims of domestic abuse.
Is the Tea Party to blame for the problems of US Republicans? And is it time for the Republicans to change?
Joining Inside Story Americas are guests: John Nichols, a political writer for the Nation Magazine; Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey State Director for Americans for Prosperity; and John Feerhey, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for the former speaker of the house, Dennis Hastert.
"The Republican Party is much more conservative than it was 30 years ago ... The Republican Party has moved on both social and economic issues far to the right from were it was 30 years ago, but now you have a question if it will move dramatically further to the right. And that is a great internal debate within the Republican Party."
John Nichols, a political writer for the Nation Magazine