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January 18, 2011 / J. Shaw

A Big Step-DeMint,Paul Form Senate Tea Party Caucus

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Friday announced the formation of a new Senate Tea Party Caucus, taking a formal step toward uniting members of the movement in the 112th Congress.

Paul and Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) will be the group’s inaugural members, according to a joint statement released by Paul’s office.

“Republicans in the Senate have already made a pledge to end earmarks and fight for a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Paul said in the statement. “By joining with my fellow Senators, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as grassroots groups who see the need for government reform, the caucus will work to enact real change to protect our country and its taxpayers from an ever-expanding government.”

Lee described the tea party movement as “a movement of everyday Americans who have grown tired of Washington playing by their own set of rules.”

“Americans have elected us to be responsible caretakers of their hard-earned money and freedom, and the formation of this caucus gives us the opportunity to listen to the American people and do what they elected us to do,” he added.

DeMint was an ardent and early backer of Paul’s Senate bid, helping the tea party favorite win an upset victory over establishment-backed state Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) in last year’s GOP primary. DeMint also played a role in Lee’s come-from-behind win; he declined to support incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and immediately threw his support behind Lee after Bennett’s ouster at last year’s Utah Republican Party convention.

The caucus is slated to hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 27, two days after the Senate reconvenes following a two-and-a-half-week break.

The formation of the new group follows an announcement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in July that she was forming a House Tea Party Caucus.  By Felicia Sonmez


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