Freshmen Congressmen Tim Scott, R-SC, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Il, say they don’t plan to stay in Washington long but while they’re here, everyone’s going to feel the burn – namely when it comes to budget cuts.
“I think the key we're going to have to be aggressive,” Kinzinger told Jonathan Karl on ABC News’ ‘Top Line.’ “You know it's going to hurt everybody…There can be no sacred cows.”
Both freshmen say they are willing, for example, to put defense spending on the table for cuts, an area republicans have historically considered sacrosanct.
“In the military budget you have a number of items in there that are Congress' sacred cows,” Scott said. “The question really is, does it help us to meet our military objectives or does it satisfy our constituents in a way that is inconsistent with the military objective?”
One GOP sacred cow might be the extra engine on the F-35, an enormous defense expense both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor have pushed for despite Secretary Gate’s suggestion they are unnecessary. Scott said he is open to halting production and that conversation will begin amongst his fellow freshmen, not GOP Leadership.
“My first conversation will start with my classmates on issues of cutting the budget, on issues of military, on issues of concern. I have two brothers that are in the military. One's in the Air Force, one's in the Army. When I have a pilot sitting next to me, my brothers will tell me that the first place to start is with the guy that actually flies the plane.”
When asked if he was pleased with spending cut proposals thus far, Scott touted the Republican Study Committee’s $2.5 trillion budget cutting measure. In their “Pledge to America,” GOP Leadership promised $100 billion in cuts by the end of the year, though details about where and how have been murky at best. Scott says those budget cuts do not go far enough.
“We have to lower spending beyond fifty or even a hundred billion dollars. I'm looking for opportunities for us to actually see spending cuts more than a hundred billion dollars,” Scott said. “I'll tell you that being a freshman on the Rules Committee, we were debating the issue on about whether we should stick to 2008 levels or can we go lower, I said absolutely, positively, unequivocally, we will have to go lower than 2008 levels.”
Kinzinger and Scott budget cuts are where the freshmen are able to exert influence.
“Eighty-seven freshmen is a third of the Republican conference. I'd say our voices are being heard loud, and they are being heard clear,” Scott told ABC News.
“We're bringing that energy and [the leadership] wants to harness it because they understand that if we're going to stay in majority, we've got to govern effectively. And govern by the wishes of the people,” Kinzinger said.
Tonight, as 87 newly elected members of the the House gather listen to the annual State of the Union address, at least one expects to find evidence of a liberal president moving towards the middle.
“I think that he understood the shellacking on November the second, so he's going to try to find a way to align his policies with the American objectives,” Scott told ABC News. “Whether he believes in them or not, I'm not sure but I think it’s in the best interest of America that we keep moving towards the right, and I'm glad that he is.”
As to where and with whom they are going to sit, Kinzinger plans to make “a game time decision.” For Scott, there’s really only one option:
“A boy from North Charleston, South Carolina? We sit to the right. We even lean to the right,” Scott joked.