Rep. Michele Bachmann filed paperwork Thursday night to found and become the chairwoman of an official House Tea Party Caucus, which would for the first time institutionalize the movement that has been gaining significant steam in GOP primaries around the country.
“The House Tea Party Caucus will serve as an informal group of Members dedicated to promote Americans’ call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution and limited government,” the Minnesota Republican wrote in a letter to House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who must choose whether to approve the caucus.
In a statement released on her website, the tea party protest mainstay said the caucus will serve as a government counterpart to the American people who are “speaking out loud and clear.”
“They have had enough of the spending, the bureaucracy, and the government knows best mentality running rampant today throughout the halls of Congress,” the statement reads. “This caucus will espouse the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold.”
Bachmann hasn’t yet announced which Members will join her in the caucus.
The group’s registration comes on the heels of a groundswell of tea party activity around the country, culminating in GOP primary victories by Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky, both Senate candidates who have closely aligned themselves with the movement.
If Paul wins his Senate bid, Bachmann could have an ally in the other chamber: Paul told the National Review on Wednesday that he’d be interested in starting a tea party caucus.
“If Rand is elected to the U.S. Senate, I’m sure there’d be a lot of cooperation and outreach between his office and people that Michele Bachmann brings together in the House of Representatives,” Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said. “I think that there is lots of room here for all different kinds of leaders from within the tea party movement.”
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said she hadn’t yet heard about the caucus but is receptive to the idea.
“We want change in government. One thing that we have to do is make sure there are elected officials who want the same change that we want,” Martin said. “This caucus could potentially help promote and pass legislation that is in line with our core values.”
The tea party movement prides itself on being a grass-roots, leaderless movement, Martin said, but she doesn’t think that putting a tea party label on an official government entity would change that.
“I don’t think that having a caucus is going to create a single leader of the tea party movement,” she said. “Anyone who tries to be the leader of the movement doesn’t understand the nature of this movement.”
Bachmann, Martin added, is simply taking up the call of the grass roots, who “respect and admire” her for “taking bold action,” like proposing legislation to repeal the health care reform law.
“Tea Party Patriots has been going around and telling people, Create your own tea party with your circle of influence,'” Martin said. “It sounds to me like that’s what Michele Bachmann is doing right now.”