"He's been waiting for a group like us," says Oklahoma Rep.-elect James Lankford. "This gives him the help to reform things." Illinois Rep.-elect Robert Dold says Boehner, in several meetings with freshmen, sounded the right tone in urging bipartisanship to solve big issues. "It's important that we reach across the aisle," he says. "What's done is done; now it's time to fix things." [See a slide show of new faces in the Senate.]
Neither have held public office before: Lankford, of Oklahoma City, ran a Christian youth camp, and Dold, a former Hill staffer, runs the family pest business south of Chicago. Both told Whispers that Boehner has indicated at several meetings with the freshmen that he will let all new members have a voice in the GOP caucus.
For Lankford, that means asking one question of every spending and procedural vote. "My job is to go ask why," he says. And like most of the new conservatives coming to town next January, he also has orders from voters to vote against new spending.
He says that became something of an issue during the campaign when supporters would note his boyish good looks and ask if he was cut-throat enough to vote no. "I don't think that you have to be a jerk to say no," he says. [See who donates to Boehner's campaigns.]
Dold says that he has met with several new members, and they are united on cutting spending and helping to create jobs. "Our focus has to be how do we rein in out of control spending and we ought to be serious about putting people back to work," he says in an interview.
And there is a devotion to bipartisanship among many new members. "We have to talk about bipartisanship," says Dold. "It's important that we reach across the aisle."
What's more, there is also an impatience among the new members and their voters, who are following their moves via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. And it's an impatience shared by the leadership, especially incoming committee chairmen who want to hit the road running with a new GOP fiscal year 2012 budget that aides promise will take on sacred cows like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Lankford says the pressure to act is heavy. "People want to know how it's working. People want to know what's happening today," says the frequent Twitter user. Dold says that unlike after other elections, voters have remained engaged and are keeping an eye on action in Washington. "We have people who are far more engaged," he says.
Dold added that a poor performance by the new GOP could doom them in the next election. "The pendulum could swing back in two years," says Dold. But he welcomes the scrutiny. "I view this as a time that we need to have a correction," he says. "There's an excitement. This is going to be an exciting time."