With 87 new Republican members taking office last year, there was little doubt that the freshman class would be a political force. With the summer schedule set, here's a list of new members who could find themselves playing critical roles in negotiations before the 112th Congress comes to an end.
1) Alan Nunnelee on Appropriations--The House and Senate are operating under different budget ceilings, but at some point they are going to have to come together to actually appropriate funds. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) will have an interesting role in this process. On the one hand he's part of the cut-centric freshman class, and on the other he sits on the House Appropriations Committee. Nunnelee doesn't take the job lightly, telling the Alley, "With the appropriations committee you must get the bills passed. You don't have the luxury of letting a bill die. You must fund the government." And while that may seem like an obvious statement, Nunnelee is going to have to try to balance both of his roles in getting it done.
2) Kristi Noem on Farm Bill--Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) is part of the elected leadership committee, but her real chance to shine before the end of the 112th Congress may be on the farm bill. Of the 23 Republicans on the House Agricultural Committee, 16 of them are freshmen. Getting them in line could prove tricky for Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and his best bet may be to deputize Noem. "I'm going to fight for my priorities," Noem told the Alley. "But our first priority of course is getting some kind of farm bill passed."
3) The South Carolina Delegation on Defense Sequestration--Republicans find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to sequestration. They don't want to cut defense, and they don't want to raise taxes. But according to The New York Times, at least two freshmen from South Carolina--a defense rich state -- have signaled they are willing to talk about using revenue increases to offset costs. Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan, both Republicans, are two of the staunchest conservatives in the House. If they bend, who knows who else might follow.
4) Dennis Ross on USPS--The Senate has passed its bill to "save the post office" and has been demanding action from the House so the bill can go to conference. In addition to being an avid hunter, Ross (R-Fla.) is also the chairman on the subcommittee dealing with USPS. Expect this hardliner conservative to be part of the final House-Senate negotiations.