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“We will be active. We’ll do some things. Just the Congress hasn’t been in session a lot and we’ve got a new Congress, a lot of members have new districts. I think we’ve tended just to focus on getting our feet on the ground in our new districts,” he said.
Rep. John Fleming, another member of the group, said that the group’s activity rises and falls with that of the movement itself and that absent a front-and-center cause such as the health care overhaul to turn their attention to, both groups lose momentum.
“The main thing that energized the Tea Party Caucus was the interaction with the tea party groups. Most of that had to do with Obamacare,” the Louisiana Republican said. “I think that we’re all sort of looking for the next opportunity to re-engage on Obamacare, and we feel convinced there’s going to be real good opportunities as this thing is implemented.”
The last meeting announced on the group’s website was July 25, when members spoke about the health care overhaul. Still, the group hosted discussions on a range of topics throughout 2011 and 2012, hosting speakers such as former presidential candidate Herman Cain and television commentator Dick Morris to speak about economic issues.
The inactivity has not stopped members from using the caucus as proof positive of their conservatism. Bachmann still lists forming the caucus as one of her accomplishments on her website. Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun, who is running for the Senate, was identified as a member of the caucus in a Tuesday op-ed in The New York Times, in which he criticized Wisconsin Republican and Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s fiscal blueprint.
But there is evidence that members could shy away from the label. In a CNN/ORC Poll published this month, 48 percent of respondents said they have an unfavorable view of the tea party movement.
Those numbers could be daunting for a member such as Bachmann, who struggled to maintain control of her seat in the November elections.
For others, those numbers mean nothing. Barton boasted that he thinks most of his constituents in the Dallas-area 6th District see the movement and the caucus favorably.
“The tea party is here to stay,” he said.