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On the budget, House GOP's fiery freshmen reveal a pragmatic side

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As negotiations over FY 2011 funding heated up, 21 freshmen broke with leadership on March 15 to refuse to back another stop-gap measure to avoid a government shutdown. It was time, they said, for a deal for the full year – or a fight. The measure passed, with help from Democrats. But when Speaker Boehner asked for his caucus’s support for yet another stop-gap measure on Friday, all but two freshmen switched course to back him.

“I don’t want to turn every skirmish into the war,” says freshman Rep. Bill Huizenga (R) of Michigan, one of the 21 who backed Boehner’s call for one last short-term measure.

Many freshmen credit the willingness of the GOP leadership team to reach out and listen to their concerns. All the debate and votes over FY 2011 spending gave freshmen a voice.

“If you let people speak, and listen to them, things don’t explode,” says freshman Rep. Tim Griffin (R) of Arkansas.

"A lot of people give us credit for lots of things, but we have been very spread out on our voting," says Rep. Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota, a farmer, rancher, and former assistant majority leader of the South Dakota House.

In an unusual move, Speaker John Boehner tapped her to be one of two liaisons to GOP leadership from the freshmen class.

It's not easy representing her class, she adds: "But what we all agree on is that we should cut spending."

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