The Congressional Tea Party Caucus Is Dead
Shortly after Republicans took control of Congress in the wake of the 2010 elections, a number of the newly elected members, joined by such incumbents as Michele Bachmann, formed a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. Dave Weigel notes that the caucus appears to be dead in all but name:
Today, the membership page for the caucus is defunct. The caucus hasn’t met since July 2012; it has posted no news since July 2012. In the press, “Tea Party caucus” has become an offhand way to refer to conservatives. In her speech to CPAC, which included a typically Bachmann-ian error about how much TANF money is wasted on administration, Bachmann didn’t mention “the Tea Party.”
As Weigel notes, this coincides with a general decline in the national pre-dominance of the Tea Party itself:
Nationally, the Tea Party flag is so tattered that it’s not in a Republican’s interest to maintain it. (This isn’t true in some states; the Texas Tea Party caucus is alive and well in Austin.) At the same time, the fade of the “Tea Party Caucus” itself is a positive development for Republicans. Ideological conservatives always had their qualms about the group. It allowed members who didn’t have movement bona fides — Denny Rehberg, Todd Akin, Dan Burton — to “Tea-wash”* themselves.
As I’ve noted before, the Tea Party is presently held in lower esteem than the GOP itself so, outside of concerns about pandering to the base, it simply isn’t in the interests of the GOP to emphasize their ties to the movement anymore.