WASHINGTON — Weeks before the midterm elections, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy laid out a sweeping legislative agenda Friday that aims to unify his often-divided conference and demonstrates what House Republicans would do. House of Representatives if the voters returned them to power.
Product of more than a year of work, the “Commitment to America” The platform focuses on four key pillars: the economy, public safety, freedom and government responsibility, areas that Republicans say President Joe Biden and his party have not addressed since they took control of Washington two years ago. .
“What we are going to implement today is a commitment to the United States in Washington, not in Washington, DC, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Do you want to know why? It’s about you; It’s not about us,” McCarthy told a crowd at a sheet metal working plant in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh.
“We want to extend it to you, to the whole country, [so you] You know exactly what we would do, if you would trust us and give us the ability to take a new direction for this country. But the compromise is a plan, a plan for a new direction.”
McCarthy said the same bill that House Republicans would try to pass next year seeks to repeal the $80 billion in new IRS funding that was included in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. He also said Republicans will try to pass a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that will give parents more of a say in the curriculum taught in schools.
Republicans embarked on a listening tour with constituents this summer, McCarthy said, noting the issues he said came up most often: inflation, high gas and grocery prices; migrants and fentanyl drugs crossing the southern border; rising crime rates; and young students who have fallen behind due to pandemic-related school closures.
Democrats “control the House, the Senate, the White House. They control the committees, they control the agencies…but they don’t have a plan to fix all the problems they’ve created,” McCarthy added.
McCarthy’s unveiling of the plan highlights a strategic break with his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who has decided not to release a legislative agenda before the election. Instead, McConnell is betting that keeping up the attacks on Biden, whose approval ratings are under water, is all it takes to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats.
McCarthy, however, believes Republicans need to declare what they are for in order to take back the House, which they last controlled in 2018.
The commitment to America is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America agenda, which in 1994 helped propel House Republicans into power for the first time in 40 years. Gingrich was chosen as speaker after those midterms, a path McCarthy hopes to follow.
After speaking to Republicans on Capitol Hill Thursday, Gingrich praised McCarthy’s plan as “much deeper and more complex” than his own agenda 28 years ago. McCarthy’s offers more than 100 policy proposals, a place and a Spanish section that will help members and candidates communicate the GOP’s message to voters, the former speaker said.
“The unity there was amazing,” Gingrich said, leaving the closed-door meeting. “I mean, I was surprised that members who normally find some reason not to be together get up and say, ‘We’re on the same team.'”
There was also a united front flanking McCarthy.
The two Republican men who last held the speaker’s seat, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, were ousted from power following public clashes with the far-right Freedom Caucus. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, one of Donald Trump’s top allies and one of the highest-profile figures in the Freedom Caucus, was sitting onstage on Friday directly behind McCarthy. A few seats away was one of the more moderate members of the Republican Party, Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio.
“If you look around, we have members here from New York to the Tony Gonzales border. We have people who have different approaches, from Dave Joyce to Marjorie Taylor Greene,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pennsylvania, who introduced McCarthy and represents the district where the introduction took place.
“But we are all united behind Kevin McCarthy. He is the one who unifies the party. He is the one who came up with this plan. He is the one who is going to take us back to most of us.”