Freshman Class of Congress Begins Orientation

Nearly half of the new Republicans have never served in government.

November 13, 2010, 10:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2010— -- Lawmakers return to Washington this week to begin a lame duck-session of Congress, but before they convene, the new freshman class will have already met for their orientation. The Tea Party also held meetings of their own, exclusively for new conservatives joining the Republican caucus.

Some freshmen entering the House and Senate will replace members of Congress with a wealth of experience, but many eager newbies say they believe they will bring a fresh outlook that will help them make decisions on how to legislate.

"I've never run for political office before. And I think that set of experiences is relevant for what Americans are looking for today," said Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican who spent the past 15 years working in manufacturing.

The freshman class is one of the largest Washington has seen in years, with at least 85 new members joining the GOP in the House.

Nearly half of the new Republicans have never served in government. Among them there are six doctors, three car dealers, two funeral directors, an airline pilot and a pizza restaurant owner.

There will be seven new women in the House when Congress convenes next year. Also, joining the GOP ranks will be two blacks, including Tim Scott of South Carolina.

"It's amazing, to tell you the truth. We have a lot of business owners in this class, which I think is fantastic," Scott said while attending a pre-orientation event held by Tea Party backer Freedom Works.

Earlier this week, a couple dozen incoming members of the GOP were invited by Freedom Works to attend a two-day retreat, away from Washington, in Baltimore. The event provided the new members with intensive training on how to stay true to their conservative campaigns.

"We have amazing turnaround that must be done with respect to reforming our government and make it once again conforming with the beautiful mandate of our constitution," said Freedom Works founder Dick Armey, a former former House majority leader.

"This is a chance to consolidate our understandings," Armey said, urging the new members to stick together.

Congressmen-elect Scott told ABC News, "My approach to doing what I do in Congress will be the approach that I've taken at home, which is get a group of like-minded thinkers together."

Republican Todd Young echoed Scott's remarks and said, "It's time to hit the ground running and start to do the people's work."

Sarah Palin also jumped into the orientation mix by sending a letter to incoming freshmen.

In the letter, Palin instructs new members to "stick to the principles that propelled your campaigns." She says this is the only way advance the agenda "that can best move our country forward."

"Some in the media will love you when you stray from the time-tested truths," the former Alaska governor warns new members. "When the Left in the media pat you on the back, quickly reassess where you are and readjust, for the liberals' praise is a warning bell you must heed."

Palin also calls on the conservatives to extend a hand to President Obama and Democrats in Congress, but adds, "After this election, they may finally be prepared to work with Republicans on some of these issues for the good of the country. And if not, we will all be looking forward to 2012."

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