GOP freshmen: Even more tea party than 2010?

January 4, 2013

The Republican freshmen sworn into Congress this week might be even more tea party than the Tea Party Class of 2010.

The tea party influence on last year's primaries wasn't as big a story as it was two years prior, as the label lost its luster and the rallies stopped. But the anti-establishment fervor of that movement lives on in the crop of 35 Republicans joining the House.

And in fact, it may even be ratcheted up.


Tea party freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) voted against John Boehner for speaker on Thursday and against a Hurricane Sandy aid bill on Friday. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Case in point: The vote Friday to approve a $9.7 billion aide package for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which some Republicans have criticized for not being accompanied by spending cuts.

In the end, 67 House Republicans voted against it. Of those 67, 19 came from the freshman class, compared to 22 who came from the Class of 2010.

Pretty close, huh? Well, when you consider that the 2012 class (35 Republicans) is less than half the size of the 2010 class (84 Republicans), things begin to come into focus.

In fact, while just more than one-quarter of 2010ers voted against the Sandy aid bill, more than half of 2012ers voted no. And while freshmen make up less than 15 percent of the GOP caucus, they comprised nearly 30 percent of the no votes.

(Also worth noting: four freshmen voted against John Boehner for speaker on Thursday -- almost as many as the five defectors from the Class of 2010.)

Make no mistake: Even as the tea party isn't as much of a thing any more, its ideals and anti-establishment attitude very much remain in today's Republican Party and House GOP caucus.

And if the first votes of the 113th Congress are any indication, incoming members will continue to vote the tea party line -- perhaps in even higher numbers than their tea party predecessors. Which make Boehner's job very, very difficult going forward.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | January 4, 2013