Republican Sens. Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Rand Paul formally launched the Senate Tea Party Caucus on Wednesday, in spite of what Liberty Central, a conservative advocacy group, called “pressure from the Washington, D.C. establishment.”
“By forming the Senate’s first Tea Party Caucus, these senators proudly stand behind the Tea Party momentum that resulted in their victory – and that of many other conservatives – on Nov. 2, 2010,” said Liberty Central chief Gary Aldrich in a statement. “What’s more, this is the first political movement that refuses to take a back seat after electoral victory and will continue to be a force as we move forward. By setting up this Tea Party Caucus, these senators have not only signaled their approval of the movement, but that they hope it remains a powerful political force to assist them in their clear choice to restore and protect our liberty.”
Kentucky’s Paul was similarly optimistic about the group. “We’re already co-opting Washington,” he said at the caucus’s first meeting, according to USA Today*. “I went to the State of the Union … and guess who now is against earmarks? The president has been co-opted by the Tea Party.”
The Daily Caller previously reported that Marco Rubio, Florida’s junior senator and a Tea Party favorite, questioned the need for the group. “My concern is that politicians all of a sudden start co-opting the mantle of ‘Tea Party,’” Rubio told the Florida political blog Shark Tank earlier this week.
*This article originally stated that Rand Paul was a senator from Tennessee