Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party
There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.
The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus.
“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.
“We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party. We are not taking over the Tea Party,” Bachmann said. “We are to listen.”
Like many Tea Party-related events, this one drew more members of the news media than participants.
Republican lawmakers were joined, however, by several private citizens who spoke up for the Tea Party movement and its push for less government, more freedom and no new taxes.
They also rejected criticism of the Tea Party. “I’m here because I want to tell America we are not terrorists, we are not racists,” said Danielle Hollars, a black Army veteran and mother of five. “We are Americans who care about our country and the future of our children and our grandchildren.”
As of Wednesday there were 28 members of the Tea Party Congressional Caucus, all House Republicans. They include some, but not all, of the party’s House leadership.
Caucus members expressed hope that many of the other 150 House Republicans would eventually join.
Bachmann made it clear that Democrats are welcome and that she would like to see the caucus, like many of those on Capitol Hill, become bipartisan.
The Tea Party Congressional Caucus could become much bigger after the November election. The movement has endorsed a number of congressional Republican candidates for the House and Senate.
Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Bachmann at a healthcare rally November 2009)