With less than a “week to go before its first meeting, the new Senate Tea Party Caucus has just three members: GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah,” POLITICO reports.
The three will headline the first meeting Jan. 27, a public event also featuring national tea party leaders.
Left out of the club are several newly elected Republican senators who rode the tea party wave of momentum this fall, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
A spokesman for Rubio, a tea party favorite, told POLITICO earlier this week that he has “not made any decisions about any caucus memberships.”
Johnson said through his spokeswoman Friday that he has no plans of joining the caucus.
“I sprang from the tea party and have great respect for what it represents,” said Johnson in a prepared statement. “The reason I ran for the U.S. Senate was to not only stop the Obama agenda but reverse it. I believe our best chance of doing that is to work towards a unified Republican conference, so that’s where I will put my energy.”
Toomey could not be reached for comment.
Caucuses are “not as influential in the Senate, whose rules give individual senators the power to hold a bill, as they are in the House, where a group of members is needed to block action.”