Kentucky Republican Senator-elect Rand Paul is already making waves in Washington, D.C. with plans to organize either a Senate or bicameral Tea Party Caucus.
Paul said he’s been chatting with several people from Kentucky about laying down a communications blueprint to keep the grassroots Tea Partiers nationwide in touch with their newly elected senators and representatives about what’s going on inside the Beltway. Paul told The Daily Caller he plans to start by forming a “nucleus” of conservative senators and then reach out to colleagues in the House.
“My idea is that we would do a bicameral caucus,” Paul told TheDC. “I don’t think there’s been a caucus that has had both Senate and House jointly meeting and I’d also like it to involve the grassroots, in some way, the Tea Party groups so we get some kind of input from folks all around the country, some kind of electronic town hall or something like that.”
Paul said he got the idea from talking with Kentucky Tea Partiers, adding that the activists tell him they want to keep fighting, even though there isn’t another election until 2012.
“They aren’t like, ‘once the election’s over, that’s it,’” Paul said. “So, I’d like to figure out a way that they can have input and we can let them know what we’re trying to do on their behalf as well.”
Paul said he’d expect such a caucus to “make legislators better people and better legislators but, also, it would just give them a guidepost to work from.” He stressed that fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets would be a major focus of his Tea Party Caucus.
Currently, there is already a Tea Party Caucus in the House, founded and led by Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann. Paul said he hasn’t spoken with Bachmann yet, but plans to get it touch with her when he gets to Washington. He hopes to work with Bachmann and other House Tea Party Republicans on making his idea of a bicameral Tea Party Caucus a reality.
“I think it would help us to shape the national debate over these reforms,” Paul said. “It helps us to have a distinct entity that has not ever existed before. The Tea Party movement is one of if not the biggest political movement in my lifetime and I think it deserves to still have a voice in Washington. That’s why I’m doing it, trying to set up a caucus that sets up lines of communication between the different Tea Party groups, which are very decentralized, and the candidates they elected in Washington.”
Paul also told TheDC that he hopes to agree with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who endorsed Paul’s opponent during the Republican primary, more often than he disagrees with his fellow Kentuckian.
“I think people will be surprised that there will be many things that we work together on,” Paul said. “We may not always agree, but I think Senator McConnell has done a great job keeping everyone together and opposing a lot of the really bad policies that have been coming out of the White House. People often want to point out differences between us, but the thing is, we’re both Republicans and we’re both conservatives. There will be quite a few times where I will simply be one of those in support of what Senator McConnell is doing.”
Paul said one initiative he is going to push in Washington is instituting a “waiting period” before legislation can be passed.
Speaking of his relationship with his father, Texas Republican Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, Rand Paul said he and his father have a bit of a political relationship in addition to a familial one.
“We do talk, but not always specifically about things, some about issues and some about policy,” he told TheDC. “But, pretty much, throughout the campaign, we sort of ran our own independent campaign. Obviously, he was very helpful to us in many ways, but not really so much of him calling me up and saying, ‘you need to do it this way or that way.’ It’s really much more of a hands-off type of thing where we’re interested in each other as family members and also interested in each other in what we’re doing lately, but, day-to-day, I’m not going to tell him what to do or vice versa.”
A spokesman for Bachmann did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.