Many of the GOP’s priorities — which ranged from a parent’s “bill of rights” to hiring 200,000 police officers to Social Security reform — are unlikely to become law with President Joe Biden in office for at least another two years. But Republican leaders have also stressed a focus that will be firmly within their control of the House majority: investigative powers.
McCarthy, Scales and Representative Jim Jordan – who is set to take the gavel from the House Judiciary Committee with a Republican majority – pledged deeper oversight of China’s role in the Covid outbreak, the flow of southern border crossings and Covid vaccinations. And this time, they will have the power to summon.
“We’ll give the secretary [Alejandro] “Mallorca is a reserved parking space, and he’ll testify a lot about it,” said Scales to loud cheers from about 150 supporters, referring to the Homeland Security Secretary.
GOP leaders intentionally held their event hundreds of miles from D.C. Rep. Jay Richenthaler, who represents the district, called it far from “Beltway critics.” And at times, it looked like a campaign rally, complete with a soundtrack by Toby Keith as local GOP voters swarmed McCarthy, as well as controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (Republic-ga), for selfies and a cuddle. One woman even wore a long red, white, and blue dress.
And while they pledged to turn their scheme into House-passed bills next year, and not just fodder for the ultimate enemy before midterms, many key issues for Republicans — from China’s supply chains to police recruitment to transgender student athletes — have been battle-tested to serve as a message unified national.
In GOP leaders’ briefings to members the day before, for example, they highlighted that crime was a “key issue” for Latino men, and emphasized their desire to “reduce dependence” on foreign countries’ oil “well across the board.” On the China issue, Republican leaders highlighted polls that showed 23 percent of independents described it as the “number one issue.”
For the most part, the GOP chart does not state precisely which bills they plan to use to achieve their goals or what level of priority each will receive. But Republicans contend that it provides critical direction as they chart a way back to the majority, both in the course of the campaign trail and in developing a detailed policy to start in January.
McCarthy said the first bill to reach the House floor would “eliminate 87,000 IRS clients” — a reference to the Democrats’ comprehensive tax, climate and health bill that boosted funding to tax the wealthy.
Besides their shiny bullet-point pamphlets, McCarthy and his leadership team also have a disciplined message schedule, in which lawmakers are urged to draft one message of their plan each week, which culminates on Election Day on November 8.
The plan received endorsements across the convention and slate of candidates, from Freedom Caucus members to battlefield Republicans like Representative Nicole Malliotakis (RNY) to McCarthy critic and Army Special Forces veteran Joe Kent, who is running in Washington State.
Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – from Make his success known After his campaign arm chief released the GOP agenda — he praised McCarthy in a tweethighlighting what he saw as the plan’s core tenets: “Less inflation. More law and order. Parental rights. Border security. American energy.”
In addition to Thursday’s debriefing, Republicans received a lengthy pre-election spirited talk from former speaker Newt Gingrich, whose “Contract for America” plan inspired the convention. Gingrich himself described the GOP’s plan as “more complex” than his own of 1994, which helped advance the so-called “Republican Revolution” that fall that ended 40 years of Democratic dominance in the House of Representatives.
“Keep focusing on commitment. He talked about it over and over again,” Gingrich later told reporters, describing his message to GOP lawmakers Thursday morning. “The theory is that you talk about it until you can’t stand it and on that point, voters are starting to figure out what’s going on.”
Lawmakers also heard Kellyanne Conway, a former adviser to Donald Trump, stress the importance of focusing on the economy rather than diverting attention to Democrats’ attack points like the Capitol attack, abortion and climate. Democrats vying on these issues may enjoy some slight bumps, Conway said, citing recent opinion polls. But if Republicans ran into the economy, she stressed, they were winning “in double digits,” according to people in the room.
The two guests were a reminder that the House Republican Party can extend to old-school conservative ideas — such as preaching Medicare and Social Security reforms — as well as key influences from Trump, particularly on topics like immigration. The plan gave Republicans a chance to make their position known after two years of opposing the Biden administration at nearly every turn.
Democrats — who have been hunting the 1994 Republican bounce back with references like JNCO Jeans and artist TLC — also see plenty of fuel for their campaign attacks. They focus more on the GOP’s pledge to “protect the lives of unborn children,” though the House GOP has avoided specific references to legislation, including at a Friday event where leaders did not detail plans for abortion policy. (This is a major difference from the Senate, which has proposed a nationwide 15-week abortion ban It led to a split within the party.)
Democrats have also seized on the GOP’s efforts to reform Medicare and Social Security, although details about those plans remain scarce. While Republicans say their goal is to prevent programs from reaching bankruptcy, Democrats insist it will require program cuts.
“I don’t think they have a lot of [an] said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D), who held his own event in nearby Pittsburgh where he delivered a counter-message to McCarthy. “They have a lot of criticism, but they don’t have a lot of solutions.”
But Representative Tom Emyr of Minnesota, the House Republican campaign chairman, dismissed Democrats’ attacks, particularly on abortion: “This election is about kitchen table issues…these are the issues we need to address and we need to focus on.”
With less than 50 days to go until the election, many Republicans were eager for something to offer their voters other than a sharp criticism of Biden.
That’s why we’ve waited until now — right now, people are focused on elections. Now, people will listen. “I think it’s a good thing,” said Rep. Richard Hudson (RN.C), who serves as the Republican convention’s secretary. “We’re all in the same songbook.”