An article in Politico stated that many Tea Party activists see the caucus as an effort by the Republican Party to hijack the movement. Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz refused to join the caucus, saying "Structure and formality are the exact opposite of what the Tea Party is, and if there is an attempt to put structure and formality around it, or to co-opt it by Washington, D.C., it’s going to take away from the free-flowing nature of the true tea party movement."
In an attempt to quell fears that Washington insiders were attempting to co-opt the Tea Party movement, Rep Michele Bachmann stated "We're not the mouthpiece. We are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington, D.C. We are also not here to vouch for the Tea Party or to vouch for any Tea Party organizations or to vouch for any individual people or actions, or billboards or signs or anything of the Tea Party. We are the receptacle."
Additionally, Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida, all Tea Party supporters, refused to join the caucus. Toomey said he would be "open" to joining, and spoke at the first meeting, but did not ultimately join. Johnson said that he declined to join because he wanted to "work towards a unified Republican Conference, so that's where I will put my energy." Rubio criticized the caucus, saying "My fear has always been that if you start creating these little clubs or organizations in Washington run by politicians, the movement starts to lose its energy."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top contributors to the Tea Party caucus members are health professionals, retirees, the real estate industry and oil and gas interests. The Center said the contributions to caucus members from these groups, plus those from Republican and conservative groups, are on average higher than those of House members in general and also those of other Republicans. The average Tea Party caucus member received more than $25,000 from the oil and gas industry, compared to about $13,000 for the average House member and $21,500 for the average House Republican.
Decline and potential revival
From July 2012 to April 2013 the Tea Party Caucus neither met nor posted news on its webpage, leading observers to describe it as "dead," "inactive," and "defunct." In April 2013, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina filed paperwork to create a new Tea Party Caucus, but found that Michele Bachmann intended to continue the caucus, starting with an event on April 25.
As of October 2013, the Tea Party Caucus and the similar Liberty Caucus are practically defunct.
Members, 112th and 113th Congresses
112th Congress Tea Party membership map.
The caucus chair was Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Of a total possible 435 Representatives, as of January 6, 2013, the committee had 48 members, all Republicans.