Washington (CNN) - The founder of a new Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives says her group's main mission is to listen to Tea Party activists concerns, but not to serve as a mouthpiece for the movement or to vouch for actions by Tea Party members.
"We decided to form a Tea Party caucus for one very important purpose: To listen to the concerns of the Tea Party," said Rep. Michele Bachmann, at a news conference Wednesday morning following the first meeting of the caucus.
"We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party. We are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington DC. I am not the head of the Tea Party."
"We are also not here to vouch for the Tea Party, or to vouch for any Tea Party organizations or vouch for any individual people or actions or billboards or signs or anything of the Tea Party. We are here to listen and to be a receptacle."
Bachmann said 24 representatives attended the first meeting. Twenty-eight Republican members of the House are listed as members of the caucus (see list below), including two high ranking members of the GOP House leadership, Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.
Pence, a five term congressman from Indiana who may make a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, told CNN Monday that "having spoken at the September 12th march on Washington, having spoken at Tea Party rallies, and the fact that I'm proud to be a Tea Party endorsed candidate for re-election, I was honored to join the Tea Party caucus."
Sessions, a seven term representative from Texas, Monday described the Tea Party movement as "sincere" and "serious."
Not joining are the two top House Republicans: Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
"It's Boehner's personal policy not be a member of any caucus other than the House Republican Conference," spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.
Bachmann says she understands.
"Leader Boehner doesn't join any caucus other than the Republican Conference. That's his rule so that's certainly no repudiation," Bachmann told CNN on Monday, adding she doesn't feel Cantor is rejecting the caucus either.
Bachmann, a conservative congresswoman from Minnesota who's a favorite of many Tea Party activists, won approval for the new organization late last week from the Democratic leadership.
"We want to have a bigger earphone to listen to the people. We may possible meet next week," Bachmann told reporters. "Our goal is to continue an on-going dialogue, in real time."
Bachman added that she is renewing a call for allowance of House members to use Skype in their offices, which is currently banned. Bachmann said the online communication service would make it easier to talk with constituents and vice-versa.
The year and a half old Tea Party movement has infused a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the GOP, and the party, trying to recover from major election defeats in 2006 and 2008, has to a degree, embraced the movement. But the creation of the Tea Party caucus comes as the anti-tax and limited federal government movement faces its biggest controversy.
Sunday the National Tea Party Federation expelled one of the largest and best known national Tea Party groups, the Tea Party Express, and its spokesman Mark Williams. The Federation, a three month old organization that seeks to represent the Tea Party political movement around the country, acted following of an inflammatory blog post Williams wrote last week about the NAACP. Williams says he wrote the incendiary blog post in response to an NAACP resolution last week that called on Tea Party leaders to crack down on racist elements in the movement.
Tuesday House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer questioned how many Republicans would want to join the new caucus.
"We'll see how many Republicans join the Tea Party Caucus and see whether or not they want to adopt the tea party agenda," the number two Democrat in the House told reporters at a news conference.
The Maryland Democrat also repeated what he stated on the Sunday talk shows, saying he didn't think the Tea Party movement itself was racist, but said he's "seen some virulent racist tracks, which I believe are harmful to the public discourse."
Bachmann says she hopes her caucus will eventually become bipartisan in nature.
"The first letter I wrote about the Tea Party caucus was to speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to invite her to also become a part of the Tea Party caucus, so I'm hoping Democrats and Republicans will come together to become a part of this caucus," Bachmann told CNN.
CNN's Evan Glass, Jim Acosta, and Bonney Kapp contributed to this story
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
TEA PARTY CAUCUS MEMBERS
Michelle Bachman of Minnesota (founder of the caucus)
Todd Akin of Missouri
Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland
Joe Barton of Texas
Gus Bilirakis of Florida
Paul Broun of Georgia
Michael Burgess of Texas
Dan Burton of Indiana
John Carter of Texas (Republican Conference secretary)
John Culberson of Texas
John Fleming of Louisiana
Trent Franks of Arizona
Phil Gingrey of Georgia
Louie Gohmert of Texas
Peter Hoekstra of Michigan
Walter Jones of North Carolina
Steve King of Iowa
Doug Lamborn of Colorado
Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
Gary Miller of California
Gerry Moran of Kansas
Mike Pence of Indiana (Republican Conference chairman)
Tom Price of Georgia
Pete Sessions of Texas (National Republican Congressional Committee chairman)
Lamar Smith of Texas
Cliff Stearns of Florida
Todd Tiahrt of Kansas
Joe Wilson of South Carolina
Bachmann is throwing Tea Party under the bus. Par for the course. I hope they all impode.
You can tell when Bachmaqnn is lying...her mouth is moving. How in the world did this nutcase get elected in the first place?
SC only has one representative? I'm surprised they weren't ALL there.
A good start on who in the republican party has a sheet and hood in their closet.
Next to Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman is the shrillest, whiniest, whackiest, most hate-filled Republican woman out there. I hope she gets defeated by her Democratic opponent really bad. Maybe that would shut her up. We can only hope.
Glad you published this list so we can see who the real supporters in of this Tea Party in congress are. I'm not one to denigrate usually, but these Tea Party folks are a bunch of backwards, right wing extremists who don't care about other folks, as long as they have their money, their jobs, their security, and their medical care, screw everyone else. What a bunch of close minded yahoos.... Take our country forward... Not BACK....
Tea Party, Michelle, Palin, Fox News....We are soooooooo tired of the discourse of divisiveness....Remember the God you claim to know will return the seeds you sow
Oh good Lord. Bachmann has been spewing Tea Party nonsense for two years. Why try and hide that fact now unless her Minnesota 6th District isn't as far right as she has played them out to be.
Well, GOPers, this is what happens when lack of GOP leadership allow too many idiots to stir the pot - division and desention.
no she decided to form a tea party caucus to continue her rants and mischief. minnesota deserves better. because no one believes her or her agenda
Rats leaving a racist ship, LOL
This article makes me sick. This woman along with Sarah Palin have attended many Tea Party rallies. Now all of a sudden she claims that she is not the MOUTHPIECE . If she loves the TEA PARTY so much she has to stand with them all the time. She knows that at some of these party rallies there have been people with signs that are definitely racist. Not everyone is but there are some. She is afraid that she is going to be linked to a guy such as Mark Williams. The Republican Party makes me sick. And all the cable stations (FOX NEWS) make me sick with there love for the Tea Party (Sean Hannity).
I will NEVER VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Tea Party is given WAY too much coverage for a group that represents less than 1% of the US population!
Thats rich. The caucus won't serve as the mouthpiece for the Tea Party yet the Tea Party Caucus' founder Michelle Bachmann is a foaming at the mouth Tea Party mouthpiece.
Good for you for trying to put some "respect" into the Tea Party caucus!
That is a step in the right direction.
Now you need to continue that direction by distancing the Tea Party from all the kooks out there like Palin and Limbaugh!
Taxpayers get to spend extra money to have them be in a caucus. Its one of the reasons that there are so many caucus'. If there weren't money in it, most of the caucus' would just disappear.
Not joining are the two top House Republicans: Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Dumb & Dumber even knows the Tea Party is bunch of radicals. The Evil Michelle Bachmann's days in Congress are drawing nearer. I will work overtime so I can donate more money to her democratic opponent.
"but not to serve as a mouthpiece for the movement or to vouch for actions by Tea Party members."
Of course not! The Tea Party is a mouthpiece for the Republicans and of course they won't vouch for their actions, they don't ever take responsibilty for thier own actions let alone their minions.
I suspect Bachmann is envious of Palin and wants to take the limelight away from her.
Both are despicable females (I won't call them women because they are just loud-mouth, fear-mongering, egotistical little girls).
Too Late Michelle!!! We have all seen your true colors. No sense in trying to cover it up now. I'm glad there is a list. So now I know who NOT to vote for.
Dems, please don't become part of this hysterical nonsense; there's work to do. We don't want to get involved in their "no solutions" approach to issues. Most of us understand that nothing is free; taxes are a necessary part of paying for what we spend. Two wars are costing us big time; did I miss how we were suppose to fund them way back when? What was the outcome of tax breaks for the wealthy; did it work? This is a self-serving, hysterical bunch of whiners with too much free time on their hands; they don't deserve more air time.
Okay, I get it – Tea Party members live in the MATRIX, only instead of there being "no spoon," there's "no Tea Party."
Translation: We're more then willing to ride on the Tea Party's coattails to benefit from their publicity and votes.. but we don't want to be held (publicly) responsible for the actions or opinions of the mob we're rallying.
Bachman on June 15th regarding the BP fund: "There's a misreading of the Constitution and a misunderstanding of jurisdictional limits from this White House. Now it seems that it's all about extortion," she said."
Bachman 3 days later after Joe Barton was made a pariah for his apology... "No one is saying this fund shouldn't be set up"
Typical right wing hack. Completely useless, no opinion of her own, will say whatever seems popular even if it's the polar opposite of what she said just a few days before. That she has been made the defacto head of the Tea Party Caucus is fitting.
Last week Michelle Bachmann wanted herself crowned as "Queen of the Tea Party" and now she is suddenly distancing herself from them?
I guess she finally paid attention to her own state and found out she is way behind in the polls and is likely to lose her seat in Nov. Minnesotans are not extreme and do not believe the garbage Bachmann spews. She has probably embarrassed them long enough now and they are ready to get rid of her.
Tarryl Clark is a far better person and leader than the prancing psycho "Queen" who does nothing for her state and thinks she can make money like Palin by telling lies and supporting the racist elements of the tea baggers.
Goodbye and good riddance Bachmann. No state wants extremists like you representing them in office.
backpedaling again bimbo #2? Can't these rethugs say something and then stand by it?
You do remember your speeches in DC when the teabaggers were in town, right? I remember you speaking to the few who showed up and your spewing of revolution. Remember that?
Just the fact that she would entertain a caucus with the teabaggers, nation, express, federation, patriots and 365 (it's not just one group people) says it all.
They are the ones taking over and sending you all packing because, if you have not already figured it out, they are dividing your party of NO.
Hypocrite!!! People from Minnesota are supposed to be some of the most educated in the nation. What happened here with this woman?
Bachmann not the mouthpiece??? She must be a hole lower down....
I'm glad that no one from NJ is there. These people need to be realistic. Are they going to tell their constituents that they aren't going to ask for any federal money to be spent in their district? I would find that hard to believe.