Washington Extra - Freshman fling

WASHINGTON, April 20 Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:26pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Freshmen are usually low on the totem pole. But the 85 first-term Republicans in the House of Representatives find themselves awash in invitations for meetings and morning coffees with the creme de la creme of Washington and Wall Street.

Reuters reporters Tim Reid and Rachelle Younglai report today that the freshmen are in vogue because their fiscally conservative views could determine the outcome of the upcoming vote to raise America's debt ceiling. The newcomers are told repeatedly that a failure to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit will trigger economic calamity, on a global scale.

Take Michael Grimm, a first-term Republican from New York, who said: "I have had meetings in D.C., meetings in New York, meetings with Fortune 500 companies, meetings with financial institutions."

That's a lot of attention for a guy who arrived here barely four months ago.

They may be new, but they are not necessarily impressionable. Reid and Younglai say the intense lobbying effort shows signs of falling flat. One freshman said he would vote "no" unless there are "serious cuts and real systemic reform."

That suggests the traditional allies of Republicans -- big business and banks -- may have little sway over these new men and women on campus.

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