“That says to me that we have a class that’s ready to get serious about balancing the budget,” said Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.), who took office in November after winning a special election.
The new class includes fewer bomb-throwers than the last class, which was peppered with first-time lawmakers who prided themselves on their lack of experience.
“They haven’t been nearly as boisterous in the media,” one House Republican leadership aide said of this year’s group. On the other hand, the aide added, the immediate votes against Boehner represented a “boldness not seen among the tea party class.”
Newcomers include Rep. Ted Yoho (Fla.), a large-animal veterinarian, and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (Mich.), who owns a reindeer ranch and moonlights as a Santa Claus.
But the class features former state officials and legislators and two members who served in the House previously.
“I promised my constituents that we wouldn’t do business as usual because business as usual was not getting the job done,” Massie said of his vote against Boehner.
He said that he will support the speaker in debt talks but that his goal is to bring about major change in Washington.
Salmon, one of those who previously served in Congress and is returning as a freshman after running unsuccessfully for governor of Arizona and spending 12 years out of office. He backed Boehner.
But he said he was displeased with GOP negotiating tactics in past spending battles. The party must be tougher, he said, to force Democrats to make significant concessions.
“In every major negotiation squabble, we’ve come to the brink of disaster, and then Republicans — at least the House — have kind of acquiesced,” he said. “I just really felt like a message needed to be sent to him that everything isn’t hunky dory.”
Rep. Tom Cotton (Ark.), a Harvard-educated Army veteran, said: “So far, everything we’ve discussed as a conference indicates to me that we’re totally aligned in our plans going forward: to have the tax debate behind us and focus like a laser on spending.”
Cotton, who backed Boehner for speaker, said House Republicans are unified behind his strategy.
“We realize that President Obama and his policies have driven us to where we are now,” he said. “This is not an internal problem inside the House.”