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Rehberg joins congressional tea party caucus


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Montana's U.S. representative, Republican Denny Rehberg, is among the founding members of a new caucus in the U.S. House, the tea party caucus formed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

Comments from Rehberg were not available by deadline this morning.

During a Washington press conference Wednesday following the first meeting of the caucus, Bachmann said the purpose of the caucus is not to act as a mouthpiece for the tea party movement.

"The people are the head of the tea party. We are here to listen, to be a receptacle," she said.

In a release on her website, Bachmann said she called for the tea party caucus after hearing people say they "felt discouraged because no one in Washington, D.C., seemed willing to listen."

Many Americans are seeking a return in Washington to principles based on the U.S. Constitution, she wrote.

"Americans from all locations and backgrounds have united through Tea Parties to spread the timeless message of fiscal responsibility and limited government," Bachmann wrote.

On her website this morning, she listed 37 representatives — all Republicans — who have joined the caucus. That includes Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the third-ranking Republican in the House.

Rehberg, who is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Dennis McDonald, has been an increasingly vocal critic of the Democratic House leadership and the policies pushed forward by President Barack Obama.

Rehberg is seeking his sixth term as Montana's sole member of the House.

He opposed the passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and since it was signed into law last year, has criticized it — including during a listening session he held in Havre Saturday — as bolstering spending on federal programs rather than addressing the causes and effects of the recession that began in 2007.

Rehberg also opposed and has criticized the Wall Street reform act Obama signed into law Wednesday, saying it will lead to taxpayers having to fund bailouts of the financial industry while not addressing the true cause of the collapse of the financial industry, which he says was the actions of the federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

He has sponsored legislation to limit the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to declare areas national monuments, after a memo from the U.S. Department of the Interior discussing possible monument designations was leaked.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said repeatedly that the memo was discussing possible options, but no plan of actions to create monuments is in place.

Rehberg also has been critical of the health care reform passed this year, including sponsoring a bill to repeal the act, and the deficits caused by spending of the Obama administration.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.


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