House Tea Party Caucus to tackle debt ceiling at first meeting of the 112th

The House Tea Party Caucus, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), will hold its first meeting of the 112th Congress on Feb. 17, Ballot Box has learned. The looming vote to raise the nation's debt ceiling is expected to top the agenda. 

Invites to new members to join the Tea Party Caucus went out from Bachmann via e-mail last week. 

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"It is my hope that the Tea Party caucus will serve as a venue for members of Congress and Tea Party activists to share ideas and determine the best way to get America on a sound fiscal path that adheres to the Constitutional principles on which she was founded," Bachmann wrote in the invite.  

The group's first meeting will be similar to the first gathering of the Senate Tea Party Caucus last week. Tea Party activists and members of the public will be invited. 

During the last Congress, the membership list of the caucus included 52 House Republicans, but with dozens of new Tea Party-backed members ushered into the lower chamber after the 2010 midterms, the ranks of Bachmann's caucus are likely to grow substantially.  

A larger caucus would bolster Bachmann's clout in the House after she ruffled some feathers in the Republican leadership over the past month. Bachmann rankled GOP leaders when she gave her own televised response to President Obama's State of the Union address last week at the invitation of the Tea Party Express.

She also continues to explore a run for president in 2012. Fresh off a trip to Iowa in January, Bachmann will head back to the state for a second trip in March. 

The Senate Tea Party Caucus convened for the first time last week. Led by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), it has just four members. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), a former member of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, joined after speaking at the gathering.