Power Centers

GOP Freshmen Get Oriented And Warned

Rep.-elect Billy Long

Rep.-elect Billy Long (R-MO) at orientation for newly elected members of Congress Alex Brandon/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Brandon/AP Photo

House freshmen are in Washington this week getting an early dose of what life will be like, at least for the next two years.

As NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported on Morning Edition Tuesday, there's a lot of complicated new information they must take in, and that's even before they get presented with their first monstrous omnibus spending bill.

An excerpt:

ANDREA: Come January, Republican Billy Long will represent Missouri's 7th Congressional District. But before then he's got work to do.

LONG: Gotta liquidate my auction company, liquidate my third interest in the largest real estate company in town, so there's a lot of things you gotta get up to school on, up to speed.

ANDREA: This is what the freshmen are learning in orientation this week. Exactly how to comply with the rules and guidelines of the United States Congress.

Arkansas Republican Steve Womack said they need the help — the rules are complicated.

WOMACK: Financial disclosure, ethics, travel, gifts, those kinds of things — because we're all being swarmed by a whole lot of outside interests and I think all of us recognize the great potential there is for a misstep along the way.

ANDREA: And while the politics at home is over for the moment, it's only just begun here in Washington. There's that swarm of outside interests buzzing around, lobbyists of every stripe, are coming to call and, especially for this huge class of Republicans, the Tea Party would like to have a word...

Meanwhile, the new Republican freshmen know what happened to that earlier group of legislative GOP firebrands who took power in 1994 as part of Newt Gingrich's revolution.

Many in the 1994 were co-opted. Some got into legal trouble. The members of the 2010 wave told Politico that they intend not to repeat those mistakes.

An excerpt:

“They came in, and they had the great Contract With America, and, of course, by 2006 you saw what happened,” said Rep-elect and tea party hero Allen West of Florida, alluding to the GOP’s loss of congressional control four years ago. “I think the difference for the class of 2010 is that we’re not going to get 10 years. We have got to turn this thing around in two years or at least start showing the indicators that we’re going on the right track. I think the first 90 to 120 days are going to be very important, and it’s going to set the tone. The American people are not patient right now.”

As if to prove that point, the Washington Post reported that groups associated with the Tea Party movement have held sessions in Washington to underscore for the new lawmakers the groups will be monitoring every vote and more.

As the WaPo reported:

At least three right-leaning organizations staged orientation sessions for incoming members of Congress over the weekend to urge them to stick to the low-tax, small-government principles on which they ran. On Monday, one of the groups, Americans for Prosperity, held a rally on Capitol Hill to remind lawmakers of the signal voters sent on Election Day. If the new members don't vote the way they promised they would, the group's leaders vowed, they will work just as hard to get them out of Congress as they did to get them in. At one point, the crowd broke into a chant: "We're watching!"

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.