Congressional Freshman Class Arrives in D.C.

Newly elected Republicans scored an early victory Monday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a major reversal, embraced a ban on pork barrel spending known as earmarks - something many of those new members had campaigned against.

The largest class of House freshmen in more than 60 years descended on Washington, determined to shake things up and succeeded even quicker than they expected, reports CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes.

"What I've concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example," McConnell said.

Mitch McConnell Backs Earmarks Ban

It shows there is strength in numbers. Of those 93 newly elected House members, more than a third consider themselves a member of the tea party, eager to push both parties to cut spending.

"We've got some big issues to work on here in Washington, D.C., and the American people are not patient," said Representative-elect Allen West, R-Fla.

On Monday, the huge new freshman class took a crash course on how Congress works.

Thirty four of them have never held elected office before. Seven of them are doctors, seven are farmers and 32 of them own small businesses. Just nine of the 93 are Democrats.

"We're calling ourselves the mighty nine," said Representative-elect Karen Bass, D.-Calif.

In the Senate, there will be 13 new Republican members compared to just three new Democrats. Two of those Democrats were sworn in Monday after winning special elections. That means they'll be able to participate in the battle over the Bush tax cuts which are set to expire at the end of the year.

Democrats want to eliminate the cuts for Americans making more than $250,000 a year. Conservative Republicans are urging their party not to compromise.

"This lame duck Congress is limping back into Washington, D.C. hungry for more spending more taxes more deficits and more debt and we are here to say no more lame duck," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Neither party wants to see all the tax cuts expire, so they have to negotiate. One proposal is gaining traction - extend all the cuts for a couple of years until the economy improves.
  • Nancy Cordes On Twitter»

    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.

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