Texas looms large in new Tea Party Cau­cus

Cen­tral texas reps. Carter, smith among cau­cus’ char­ter mem­bers

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Alan Blinder

WASHINGTON— The newly formed House Tea Party Cau­cus, with the Texas con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion mak­ing up the largest unit in the group, launched a vol­ley of crit­i­cism at Democrats af­ter its inaugural meet­ing Wed­nes­day.

Seven Repub­li­can mem­bers of the 32-mem­ber Texas con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion have signed up for the cau­cus: Reps. John Carter, La­mar Smith, Pete Ses­sions, John Cul­ber­son, Joe Barton, Michael Burgess and Louie Gohmert.

While 28 Repub­li­cans have joined the House cau­cus, no Democrats have en­listed.

“The left is do­ing ev­ery­thing in their power to de­mo­nize and marginal­ize the tea party move­ment be­cause they are so ter­ri­fied of it,” said Carter, RRound Rock.

Cul­ber­son told a news con­fer­ence af­ter the group’s first meet­ing that he was en­cour­aged by peo­ple who have in­de­pen­dently formed tea party groups across the United States. “It gives me great hope to see the spon­ta­neous cre­ation of the tea par­ties all across the coun­try,” he said.

He said he thought the Demo­cratic agenda had stirred some pre­vi­ously un­in­volved con­ser­va­tives to ac­tion. “Nan- House Tea Party Cau­cus leader Rep. Michele Bach­mann, R-Minn., cen­ter, in­tro­duces the newly formed group Wed­nes­day on Capi­tol Hill. Texas law­mak­ers make up 25 per­cent of the cau­cus’ mem­bers. cy Pelosi and Barack Obama have awak­ened the sleep­ing gi­ant,” he said.

Gohmert said the tea party move­ment was an at­tempt to change the poli­cies of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties. “This is an im­por­tant move­ment to try to get both par­ties back on track,” he said.

Rep. Michele Bach­mann, RMinn., said she or­ga­nized the group be­cause she thinks Congress is ig­nor­ing the con­cerns of tea party mem­bers, such as their view that the na­tional leg­is­la­ture has over­stepped its con­sti­tu­tional bound­aries.

“Congress is not lis­ten­ing to those peo­ple,” she said. The role of the cau­cus, Bach­mann said, is “to lis­ten to the con­cerns of those peo­ple.”

The broader tea party move­ment was orig­i­nally fu­eled by anger dur­ing the long na­tional de­bate about health care re­form. Tea party-sup­ported can­di­dates have top­pled long­time in­cum­bents in pri­mary elec­tions ear­lier this year, in­clud­ing Sen. Robert Ben­nett, R-Utah.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jack­son, an early icon of the tea party move­ment, hasn’t en­listed in the new House Tea Party Cau­cus. Rachel Mills, his spokes­woman, de­clined to com­ment when asked if Paul would even­tu­ally join.

Bach­mann, who re­ceived per­mis­sion from Pelosi and other Demo­cratic mem­bers of the House lead­er­ship to form the cau­cus, said she had in­vited Pelosi to join the group.

Three mem­bers of the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship have joined the House cau­cus. Ses- sions chairs the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee, the cam­paign arm of House Repub­li­cans, and Carter is the sec­re­tary of the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence.

The chair­man of that body, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., also agreed to par­tic­i­pate.

How­ever, House GOP leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he won’t join be­cause he doesn’t join any groups be­sides the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence.

A tea party ac­tivist, Army vet­eran Danielle Hollars, joined the cau­cus’ news con­fer­ence and told re­porters that the tea party wasn’t racist.

“We’re not ter­ror­ists. We’re not racists,” said Hollars, who is black. “We are Amer­i­cans who care about the fu­ture of our coun­try.”

Alex Bran­don

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