WASHINGTON — Weeks before the midterms, House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday rolled out a sweeping legislative agenda that aims to unify his often divided conference and show what House Republicans would do if voters put them back in power. .
The product of more than a year’s work, the “Dedication to America” platform focuses on four key pillars — the economy, security and public safety, freedom and government accountability — areas Republicans say President Joe Biden and his party have not addressed since taking control of Washington two years ago.
“What we’re going to roll out today is a commitment to America in Washington — not 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 fabrication plant in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh.
“We want to roll it out to you, to the whole country, [so you] know exactly what we will do, if you would trust us and give us the opportunity to take a new direction for this country. But the commitment is a plan – a plan for a new direction.”
McCarthy said the first bill that House Republicans would try to pass next year aims to withdraw the $80 billion in new IRS funding that was included in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. He also said Republicans would strive to pass a “Parents Bill of Rights,” giving parents more say in the curriculum taught in schools.
McCarthy also promised to create a select House committee to investigate China.
Republicans embarked on a voter listening tour this summer, McCarthy said, noting the issues he believes were most apparent: 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 solve all the problems they’ve caused,” McCarthy added.
The revelation of McCarthy’s plan signals a strategic split with his Senate counterpart, minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has decided not to release a legislative agenda before the election. Instead, McConnell is betting that continuing attacks on Biden, whose approval rating is under water, is all it takes to take control of the Senate from Democrats.
However, McCarthy believes Republicans should state what they’re up for in order to win back the House of Representatives, which they last controlled in 2018.
For example, to address high gas and energy prices and reduce reliance on foreign countries, Republicans say they want to boost domestic oil and natural gas production and cut the permitting process in half.
To respond to rising crime, Republicans would support hiring 200,000 additional police officers with recruiting bonuses. They would also end remote voting, or “proxy,” which was instituted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a health measure during the pandemic but is still in use today.
Responding to McCarthy later on Friday at a Democratic National Committee event in Washington, DC, Biden said the minority leader’s plan contained “little or no details” and argued that some of his priorities — including public safety — were not in line. consistent with those of the Republican Party. actions.
“MAGA Republicans did not side with law enforcement. They sided with the insurgents — and they still do,” Biden said, echoing a criticism he often makes of GOP supporters of former President Donald Trump. “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you can’t condemn what happened on January 6.”
Biden said McCarthy’s plan also failed to consider key voter issues such as access to abortion, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. And he accused Republicans of “tax recklessness” and said the party “blew up the deficit” under Trump.
“I think we are really at a turning point. It happens every three, four or five generations,” Biden said. “It’s so consistent. You now have 46 days to choose and the path offered by the Democrats contrasts with that of the MAGA Republicans.”
Commitment to America is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America agenda, which in 1994 helped bring House Republicans to power for the first time in 40 years. Gingrich was elected speaker after those midterm elections, a path McCarthy hopes to follow.
After speaking with Republicans in the Capitol on 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 website and a Spanish-language section that will help members and candidates get the GOP’s message across to voters, the former speaker said.
“The unity in there was amazing,” Gingrich said, emerging from the closed-door meeting. “I mean, I was amazed at members who normally find a reason not to be together and stood up and said, ‘We’re on the same team.'”
There was also a united front flanking McCarthy.
The two Republican men who most recently held the position of speaker – John Boehner and Paul Ryan – were ousted from power after public clashes with the far-right Freedom Caucus. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a top ally of Donald Trump and one of the most talked-about figures of the Freedom Caucus, sat on the podium directly behind McCarthy on Friday. A few seats away was one of the most moderate members of the GOP, Ohio Representative Dave Joyce.
“If you look around, we’ve got members here from New York all the way to the Tony Gonzales border. We have people with different approaches, from Dave Joyce to Marjorie Taylor Greene,” said Representative Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., who introduced McCarthy and who represents the district where the introduction took place.
“But we are all united behind Kevin McCarthy. He is the one who unites the party. He is the one who came up with this plan. He is the one who will take the majority back from us.”
Democrats have acknowledged they face an uphill climb to retain the House, but they believe they have a surge of momentum after the Supreme Court voted to overturn abortion rights and a string of legislative victories.
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the House Democrats campaign manager for the 2022 cycle, mocked the Gingrich-influenced GOP plan, saying, “McCarthy is heating up leftovers.”
“It’s hard to commit to America when some of your members should be committed,” Maloney said.