July 20th, 2010
04:43 PM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party Caucus: Who's in and who's out

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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/20/art.bachmann.gi2.jpg caption ="Rep. Michele Bachmann proposed and pushed for the creation of a Tea Party caucus."] Washington (CNN) - One day before the first official meeting of the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives, the big question on Capitol Hill which Republicans will join the new caucus?

Rep. Michele Bachmann proposed and pushed for the caucus. The 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.

Bachmann tells CNN that she's invited "a number of members" to come to the group's first meeting, which will be held prior to a news conference to premiere the caucus.

But she says she already has a big name on board.

"The very first member to join the Tea Party caucus was Mike Pence who's the Republican Conference chair. That's a pretty big endorsement," says Bachmann.

Pence, a five term congressman from Indiana who may make a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, tells CNN that "having spoken at the 9/12 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."

Also signing up (at the time of this article's posting) are Republican congressmen Paul Broun of Georgia, Dan Burton of Indiana, John Carter of Texas, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas.

Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday that he's already joined the caucus as well. At a news conference with reporters, Sessions defended 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 said, adding she doesn't feel Cantor is rejecting the caucus either.

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," says Bachmann. "We're not about any political party – it's about listening to the American people."

Filed under: 2010 • Congress • Michele Bachmann • Mike Pence • Tea Party movement
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. carlos

    more appropriate name: A meeting of the imbecile minds, no argument......

    July 20, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Timbo

    Leave the TeaParty to their own. They will only take away from the GOPpers in the elections. IOW, conservatives split, and Dems WIN !!!

    Does the Snoopy Dance !!

    July 20, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. JohninTampa

    I am surprised how many people posting here seem to think just ANYONE can join the new caucus. No, Sarah Palin, Gelnn Beck and Rush Limbaugh cannot join-you have to be a sitting member of congress to be in a congressional caucus.

    It will be interesting. Some 1 to 2 dozen Republicans have sort of jumped onto the Tea Party wagon in speeches here and there, but joining a congressional caucus would be sort of formally separately from the Republican Party establishment. I wonder how many really want to make that official.

    July 20, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. once upon a horse

    and I repeat the "DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA" continues..with the likes of Bachmann and Palin and Beck and their following the movement seems quite effective indeed.

    Palin/Bachmann 2012

    July 20, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. Naqib

    Year GDP – real growth rate Rank Percent Change Date of Information
    2003 2.45 % 115 2002 est.
    2004 3.10 % 104 26.53 % 2003 est.
    2005 4.40 % 100 41.94 % 2004 est.
    2006 3.20 % 138 -27.27 % 2005 est.
    2007 3.20 % 152 0.00 % 2006 est.
    2008 2.00 % 186 -37.50 % 2007 est.
    2009 1.10 % 171 -45.00 % 2008 est.
    2010 -2.40 % 150 -318.18 % 2009 est

    Wow... did 3 year leading to 06 and 3 years after dems took control...
    Up, Up, Up... Sink, Sank, Sunk

    Thank you Democrats

    July 20, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. Mark Ferbet, KCMO

    As with all organizations and groups that are politically motivated, the Tea Party Members claim to listen to Americans, but they only listen to those that believe their ideology.

    This organization has many members, but as a whole, it represents less than 25% of Americans. The Conservative movement as a whole, represents less than 30% of Americans.

    So, it does not represent the voice of America. Just a small part of it.

    I really wish they would stop saying they represent me.....

    July 20, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. MikeH

    Michelle Bachmann gives mammals a bad name.

    July 20, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Rick in AZ

    I think having a Tea Party Caucus is a great idea. That way all the crazies will be in one place.

    July 20, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  9. 8 years of the Bush Error = How many years of recession and unemployment?

    Bachmann, the SME on all things TP.

    1. Demonstrate the proper burning of a cross to light up the night sky.

    2. Have Pence and Session give a "tea bagging" demo.

    3. And introduce the Princess of the movement, David Duke in drag.

    July 20, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. roro

    Now we'll see which Republicans are truly right wing nuts, which ones will join just to be re-elected, and which ones are the true moderate conservatives who will stand up to the lying likes of her royal nutcase.

    July 20, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. JR

    Can't wait to see the list that shows up for this nutcake soiree.

    July 20, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  12. Pragmatic

    Why are republicans are arguing to increase the deficit by another trillion or so dollars in tax breaks for the rich but are opposed to a comparative measly 34 billion dollars to extend unemployment insurance for millions of out-of-work Americans!

    GOP plan? It is just a few months before the November elections. When John Boehner was asked what the Republican agenda would be if they won election, the tanned man smugly replied, “TBD" = “To be determined!” Talk about voting for a pig in a poke – even with lipstick!

    July 20, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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