Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul signaled his intent on Wednesday to bring a bicameral Tea Party caucus to Capitol Hill when he begins his work in the upper congressional chamber in the next legislative session.
Speaking to Fox News about his ideas for establishing the political affinity group, Paul explained, "I think there's a lot of potential members in the House and a few members in the Senate as well."
On the heels of his double digit victory over Democrat Jack Conway to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, the Tea Party favorite shared his outlook on the impact he hopes to make on the political system. "I go there with optimism I guess," he said. "You know I've never held office before, so I go there expecting to change the world and I won't be told otherwise."
The Kentucky Republican suggested that the purpose of creating a Tea Party Caucus would be to push a message of fiscal conservatism as well as advance policy aimed at reducing spending. Elaborating on his vision for the coalition, he said that he would welcome both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to join.
Paul first raised the idea of founding a "tea-party caucus" in the Senate in an interview with the National Review earlier this year. Shortly after floating the concept, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took it upon herself to introduce the idea into the U.S. House of Representatives. The political body, which the conservative congresswoman officially established over the summer, has seen its membership list grow, though also has generated palpable tension within the Republican party.
The Washington Post reported over the summer:
Republican lawmakers see plenty of good in the tea party, but they also see reasons to worry. The movement, which has ignited passion among conservative voters and pushed big government to the forefront of the 2010 election debate, has also stirred quite a bit of controversy. Voters who don't want to privatize Social Security or withdraw from the United Nations could begin to see the tea party and the Republican Party as one and the same.
As for which lawmakers Paul anticipates he will align with when he takes office, the soon-to-be senator predicted when he first discussed his plans for creating a Tea Party caucus that he would become "part of a nucleus with Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, who he lauded as "unafraid to stand up."
The outlook communicated by Paul quickly picked up steam at the time among other Tea Party-backed contenders mounting Senate campaigns.
Utah Senator-elect Mike Lee, who ousted incumbent GOP Sen. Bob Bennet from his post earlier this year, reacted favorably to the idea. He said, "From the very beginning of my candidacy I've talked about the need to develop a coalition of like minded advocates for limited government in the Senate."
In a different and perhaps surprising case, Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio responded more hesitantly when asked about the idea back in July. "Well I don't know what the need for that would be," he said of forming a Tea Party caucus in an appearance on CNN.
Nevertheless, Paul appears to be pushing forward with his political ambition. "My idea for this Tea Party caucus is really to have House members and have Senate members a part of it and talk about some of the reform message that we have," the Kentucky conservative said earlier this week. He even extended an invitation to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- whom he maintains a fragile and complicated relationship with -- to join.
How will Trump’s administration impact you? Learn more