Republicans school their freshman class

by
March 23, 2011

By RICHARD E. COHEN & MARIN COGAN, Politico

Republican freshmen have been at the center of every battle in this Congress, pushing their leadership to cut more spending and appearing at marquee committee hearings to grill key administration officials.

It’s not an accident.

Behind the scenes, a high-level plan has emerged, led by Texas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions with the help of Speaker John Boehner, to empower the rookies with the implicit goal of turning a stunning victory last fall into a sustainable, unified majority.

In an interview with POLITICO, Sessions detailed his dual-track program to groom these House freshmen to be the party’s next stars, while working to ensure a more unified conference.

According to Sessions and other GOP leaders, the program includes weekly meetings, usually on Thursday, of all Republican freshmen to ensure they are on the same page on House business; smaller groups of freshmen that meet with leaders to discuss “best practices” as well as problems the new members have encountered; occasional policy forums; and individual meetings with each of the 87 first-term Republican members to review their personal development and potential career track in the House. Those personal meetings will be scheduled with Sessions or Oregon Rep. Greg Walden and at least one Boehner aide.

“This isn’t Stockholm syndrome. They are free to speak their mind,” Walden said. “Good leaders listen to their customers. One major difference from the Gingrich years is that there is a clarity of vision that is consistent but broad enough to be flexible.”

In 1994, the GOP tried top-down leadership with its revolutionaries. That created what some House veterans felt to be unnecessary freshman-establishment divides — conflicts the current leaders are looking to avoid. In 1997, many of them joined the failed coup to overthrow then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. That history clearly weighs on Boehner — who chaired the House Republican Conference under Gingrich — and on Sessions, who was elected in 1996, as they have sought to mentor the new class.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51774.html#ixzz1HQK9Ccv3

 

 

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