Tea Party in Action: Freshmen Lead on Spending Cuts

Freshman lawmakers have served less than two months in Congress, and they’ve already had a sizable impact. Now, as the House considers a $100 billion spending cut, they’re leading the charge to rein in out-of-control government spending.

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Last week during an internal GOP debate about the size of the cuts, freshmen rose up to push their party in the right direction. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. As the newest members of Congress, they are the farthest removed from Washington’s ways of doing business.

The result: Republican leaders added $26 billion more in spending cuts and promised to support additional cuts during the floor debate.

Some of the outspoken freshmen included Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Allen West (R-Fla.), who made it clear that cutting spending is their top priority.

“The Beltway braintrust seems to think it’s OK to spend beyond your means and just keep doing it and kicking the can down the road,” said Kelly, the oldest member of the GOP’s freshman class. “I was home this weekend in Erie and I was also down in Butler, and as you go up and down the district, everybody there understands you can’t spend more than you make without causing harm to the future.”

West, a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army, put it this way: “It takes five miles to turn an aircraft carrier. If we don’t start now, we will never get this ship that is the U.S.S. America righted.”

As the House debates more than 400 amendments this week, many of which would cut additional spending, expect to see freshmen continue to play a leading role.

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), who unseated liberal Democrat Jim Oberstar in November, was given the honor of Amendment No. 1 — a $42.6 million cut to the U.S. Institute of Peace.

And after this week’s spending debate, don’t expect freshmen to forget about the most pressing issue in Washington. This is just the first bite of the apple.


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