'World News' Political Insights: Earmark Debate Awaits Freshmen in Congress

Tea partiers' first big vote will pit new members against some GOP veterans.

ByABC News
November 7, 2010, 5:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2010 — -- Orientation for newly elected members of Congress takes on a new meaning when a class comes to town dedicated to reorienting Washington -- and taking a party along with them.

The largest and perhaps least predictable class of soon-to-be freshman House members in generations arrived in Washington today for formal training sessions on how to serve in Congress.

They delivered the Republican Party the majority. But they had barely hit the ground before they made clear that their loyalties extend to a different party.

"I had a lot of Tea party support in my district," Rep.-elect Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told ABC News today. "I represent the whole district [in] Illinois, but they're very passionate about it and they're going to hold us accountable."

"Our friends in the Tea Party are patriots," said Rep.-elect Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

"The Tea Party has been a very active movement across this country," said Kristi Noem, just elected as South Dakota's sole House member.

"They are going to be an influence," she said. "They helped a lot of different candidates get elected across this country, and I think they are going to continue to communicate with us as we do our work."

In what could be a sign of tension to come, a national tea party group, the Tea Party Patriots, accused the Republican Party of seeking to undermine its training session this weekend by scheduling its own events to welcome newly elected members of Congress.

The tea partiers in the class of 2010 arrived at this moment on the promise of not accommodating the old ways of doing business. This fact, more than the rightward political leanings of the vast majority of the new members of Congress, will give this group more sway than any class of freshmen that's preceded it, including the Contract with America class that stormed into Washington in 1995.