The Congressional Tea Party Caucus re-launched Thursday evening with its first meeting of the 113th Congress.
“This is the one caucus that puts the American people at the table,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Thursday evening event’s emcee, said in her remarks to the room, a person inside confirmed for Breitbart News.
“There are three premises behind the Tea Party Caucus,” Bachmann said. “One is that ‘we’re taxed enough.’ Two is that ‘we spend less than we take in.’ And third and most importantly is that ‘we follow the constitution.'”
“We have over 20 congressmen here,” Bachmann said, according to another source. “It’s hard to get 20 congressmen to a committee meeting.”
One attendee told Breitbart News that there were at least two dozen members of Congress there, including Reps. Paul Broun, Trent Franks, Mick Mulvaney, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert, Walter Jones, Michele Bachmann, Tim Huelskamp, Steve King, Louie Gohmert and Howard Coble, and many more conservative organizations like the Tea Party Express, radio host Rusty Humphries, AMAC (the conservative version of AARP), and the event’s organizer was TheTeaParty.net.
Another person told Breitbart News that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce, Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation, and staffers for at least another ten members of Congress’ offices were there as well.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) wanted to be there himself, one source told Breitbart, but he had an emergency unexpected vote in the Senate, so he could not make it. Staffers for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were in the room. Republican National Committee chief of staff Mike Shields made an appearance as well.
Gosar, a leader of the Tea Party in Congress–especially on the Operation Fast and Furious congressional investigation–told Breitbart News the meeting was one that was trying to “reorganize and reinvigorate” the movement and had “good energy.”
“It was very exciting with people reaching back out,” Gosar said on the atmosphere inside the room. “I won’t tell you that it was not also a ‘come to Jesus moment’ too about how do we get people motivated and back to caring about the direction of this country and taking on the left.”
“People want to get back into the swing of things and get this country back under wraps,” Gosar added. “We’re empowering members to make sure that they can listen to people and engaging them to get ready for 2014.”
One source inside the room told Breitbart News that Rep. Broun, who is currently running for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat Sen. Saxby Chambliss is leaving open when he retires in 2014, told the room he would start a Senate version of the Tea Party Caucus if elected to the seat.
Topics discussed at this meeting, sources said, included how Obamacare will impact small businesses across the country, Tea Party reps’ spat with House Speaker John Boehner at the beginning of this Congress, and how the members think a third-party split from the Republican Party would not work. One person inside the room said the members determined that “they can’t abandon the Republican Party because it would mean total political irrelevance for the foreseeable future. So they stamped out the idea of a third party, going rogue.”
Therefore, that person said, the plan is that the Tea Party members will fight internally to make the GOP more conservative, forcing it to the right to make it better and stronger.
This is the first of many meetings to come, TheTeaParty.net chief strategist Niger Innis told Breitbart News. Innis is planning to help organize one of these meetings every quarter, so Tea Party members of Congress, their staffers, conservative hallmark organizations and, most importantly, grassroots groups like his, Tea Party Express, and others can make sure to hold their representatives accountable.
“They [on the left] keep saying this is a ‘rebirth’ of the Tea Party,” Innis said in an interview with Breitbart News after the caucus meeting. “No, no, no. This is not a rebirth. The Tea Party has not gone away. The Tea Party was not enthusiastic, quite frankly, about 2012. We weren’t. We were not enthusiastic about Mitt Romney. Part of the reason we weren’t enthusiastic about Mitt Romney is, quite frankly, Mitt Romney wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the Tea Party.”
Innis described this as an “evolution” of the movement to the next level, where it can infiltrate the halls of Congress and change Washington from the inside. “We realize it is not enough to just critique Washington,” Innis said. “We need to be in Washington to impact Washington. It’s not enough to throw stones at the beltway from the outside. We have to players inside the beltway and that’s what we’re doing.”