July 21st, 2010
12:07 PM ET
13 years ago

New caucus says it won't vouch for Tea Party

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/21/art.bachmann.0320p.cnn.jpg caption ="Rep. Michele Bachmann is a member of a newly formed Tea Party coalition in Congress."] 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


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

Filed under: GOP • House • Michele Bachmann • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Video Guy

    They seem like they want to be Tea Baggers in Name Only. Take no responsibility for the Group they embrace. Micky, just keep spreading the hate.

    July 21, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. dont worry

    Joe "You Lie" Wilson. Man that says enough already.

    July 21, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    That's fair and equitable. Getting anyone to even listen, to the public, in groups or individually, is an accomplishment, in Washington.

    July 21, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. TomInRochNY

    Tea Party doesn't equal Republican, huh? Sure seems like it does.

    July 21, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Well looks like all the congressional nutcases are all in one basket now

    July 21, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Tough Love

    Boy .... I'm confused.

    The Democrats caucus with the DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS.

    The Republicans causcus with the REPUBLICAN CAUCUS.

    The Republicans (Bachman, and others) caucus with the Tea Party CAUCUS.

    So what is the difference between the Republicans and the Tea Partiers .... ZERO

    July 21, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. max

    Well it looks like all the nutcases are all in one basket now

    July 21, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Me

    Next will be Tea Party Lite, Then The "new" Tea party, or maybe Tea Party 4.0? Give me a break.

    July 21, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Robert

    i am saving this list of phony conservatives. these people do not believe in fiscal responsibility and limited government. these type of people are the same who will speak a mantra to get into Congress and then spend like drunken sailors and grow government to legislate their religious beliefs. i will watch these people and call them out at every phony conservative stance they take. the TEA Party and the GOP will spend us into debt, wasting preciouse taxpayer dollars overseas and on big corporations instead of spending the dollars here at home like the Democrats have.

    there are no true conservatives left. not in the GOP/TEA party and not in the Democrat party. the question is...which party serves the average ordinary people.

    July 21, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. DJ in TX

    So far, only a few members reside outside the south – interesting. I'm not buying Boehner's reason for not joining. The NRSC chairman is joining, but not the top GOP, hmmmm............................And Bachman inviting Democrats?? She knows that any movement toward the center will bring rebuke from the Tea Party.

    Anyway, this is interesting. So far only 28 members and only 24 showed up. I'd like to see how many will actually join.

    They can listen to their constituents, Tea Party, or whoever without having a specific caucus. So are these people going to listen to other constituents? Hmmm..............

    July 21, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. Good ideas from the right

    Listening to the people sounds like a great idea. Unlike the Dems and Republicans, the tea party movement isn't really a political party.

    (Now let's hear all the kooks fill up the rest of this post with lies and accusations about racism).

    July 21, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. ATL Guy

    The Tea Party people are idiots. They don't know that these Republicans are playing them for fools. Either way these people would've voted Republican anyway so I don't see what the point is. These people started the Tea Party to take the stink off of the Republicans in case the Tea Party does or says anything stupid or racist. It's like having an incestuous relationship.

    July 21, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. JB

    Thanks for posting the list, so I'll know who NOT to vote for.

    July 21, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    God Bachman is stupid. I wish she had been voted out back in november 08.

    July 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. tony

    We have no leader = you cant attack our leader when it turns out he likes little boys.

    We aren't the mouth peace for the Tea Party = we aren't responsible for all the crazy crap they say so don't ask us about civil rights, closing the dept of education, etc.

    Government is the problem and needs to be downsized = I'll tell you what you want to hear until I'm in control of government then I'll grow it to get more power.


    July 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. Honestly

    Richard Nixon:
    "I am not a crook."

    Michelle Bachmann:
    "We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party."

    Does Representative Bachmann not see how everything she says sounds like it was made up by the comedy staff of Jimmy Kimmel Live?

    July 21, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Jack

    This is kind of like letting the rats on the ship to see what they'll do. Actually, this caucus IS the Tea Party. Who are they kidding? It's a coup d'etat for the GOP. Just one more step to marginalize a once great voice for fiscal consevatism and a laissez-faire social agenda. The Tea Party are Theocrats, xenophobes, social engineers, and wannabe Robber Barons.

    If it was up to them we'd have: mandatory bible classes in public schools, no taxes for corporations, no social security, no medicare, no gun regulations, no driver's licenses, no income taxes, no military (except local militia groups), no abortions for any reason (including saving the life of the woman), no contraception, no workplace safety regulations, etc etc. etc. We'd be back in the 19th century.

    July 21, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  18. Russ

    On the surface this sounds good, but who the hell would listen to anything this air head has to say.

    July 21, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. tony

    Looks like the starting lineup to the confederate dixiecrat football team

    July 21, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Mesa Mick

    Just like a batcrap crazy rethuglicant...Start something with no intent to do anything.

    Unless of course it's to pander to the unwashed looneys in Krackerville, USA for their votes, obstruct and say "NO" to people in congress who do want to do something for MAINSTREAM Americans or, you just want to grab headlines this 24 hr. news cycle on clusterFOX Noise...

    July 21, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Linda from Minnesota

    I am embarrassed to say that some of my fellow Minnesotans actually support this woman. Believe me, her district does not represent the views and values of most Minnesotans.

    July 21, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. ronalde

    all of the nut jobs should be voted ouy of office because it is clear that they have their own agenda and clearly don't care about tha american people.

    July 21, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. vet in tx

    You definitely won't be grass roots anymore, you have just been hijacked by the "elitist, establishment government" your so quick to yell about! I wish we as Americans would start using logic and find our inner strength instead of listening to people who are just yelling because they lost and they have been, and will continue to be exposed that they care more for a small group (corporations) than the American consumer, which is all they see that you as. Essayons America and please use your minds instead of your hearts!

    "They are what we thought they were" – Coach Denny Greene

    July 21, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Meredith

    Democrats demonize anyone with whom they disagree with and it makes me sick. Never have I had any interest in politics but all these attacks on the Tea Party which unsubstantiated and deceitful makes more want to support them 100%.

    July 21, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Charlie in Maine

    She looks like Mary-Tyler Moore, But she sounds like Sean Hannity. Some may find that combo appealing but I don't.

    July 21, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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