WASHINGTON — Michele Bachmann’s time on the presidential campaign trail has quieted the group she frequently uses to illustrate her Capitol Hill leadership — the House Tea Party Caucus.
Politico reported Monday that the 60-member caucus has not met since June, a drought that coincides with Bachmann’s presidential run. One of Bachmann’s closest congressional allies said it’s all because of her absence.
The last meeting of the 60-member group occurred in early June, several months after its previous meeting in late February. The group was launched in July 2010 by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to “ensure the voices of the people are carried through the halls of Congress.”
But “the people” haven’t been able to communicate much with this group since Bachmann turned her attention to the presidential campaign trail. Before returning to Washington on Oct. 12, to vote on free-trade agreements, Bachmann had not voted since Aug. 1, when she voted against the debt ceiling agreement. She missed nearly half of all votes in July.
Iowa Rep. Steve King — a tea party favorite, himself, and close friend of Bachmann — acknowledged that he hasn’t heard a peep out of the House Tea Party Caucus in the past few months.
“The reason for that is Michele Bachmann leads the Tea Party Caucus, and she’s almost 100 percent campaigning for president right now,” King said in a phone interview. But he argued the group carried clout in the House and said it would continue to function whether Bachmann is in Washington or in Iowa.
A Bachmann spokeswoman told Politico that the caucus continues to gather public input and is redesigning their website. She pointed to several events, including a January meeting with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, as evidence of their activities.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.