MONONGAHELA, Pa. (AP) – Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is heading to Pennsylvania on Friday to directly address President Joe Biden and the party in power, unveiling a midterm election agenda with sweeping Trump-like promises despite the the House GOP’s sometimes spotty record on delivery. and who rules in Congress.
McCarthy, who is about to seize the gavel speaker if Republicans control the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy former Speaker Newt Gingrich used to spark voter enthusiasm and sweep House control in the 1994 landslide.
The House GOP’s “Commitment to America” nods to that earlier era but brings it up to date for Trump, with economic, border security and social policies to tap into the former president’s deep well of supporters in previously forgotten regions. often like this rusty landscape outside of Pittsburgh.
“We have a plan for a new direction for America,” McCarthy told the Associated Press.
On Friday, the House Republican leader will stand with other lawmakers to roll out the GOP’s agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition in the House minority — and the Republican Party itself. The GOP has shifted from its focus on small government, low taxes and individual freedoms to a more populist, nationalist and, at times, far right party, essentially still under the leadership of Donald Trump, who remains popular despite the deepening state and federal investigations against. him.
Driven by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” voters, Republicans need to pick up just a few seats to gain control of the narrowly split House, and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from certain.
While Republicans and Trump passed tax cuts into law, the GOP’s last major campaign promise, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failed. A long line of Republican speakers, including Gingrich, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, have been forced out of office or opted for early retirement, often on the ground fighting a party.
“House Republicans are very good at running people out,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.
McCarthy, who was first elected to office in 2006, is among the survivors of the Republican battles in the House, and has a new style of leadership that has shown an ability to communicate more than legislate.
As the chief architect of the “tea party” Republican takeover in 2010, the California Republican personally recruited the newcomers to Congress – many who have never served in public office and are long gone. McCarthy was an early endorser of Trump, and remains close to the former president, relying on his high-profile endorsements to propel GOP candidates for Congress. He abandoned an earlier bid to become speaker when support from his colleagues waned.
The “Dedication to America” shows the strength of McCarthy’s abilities, but also his weaknesses. He spent more than a year bringing together the often warring factions of the House – from the far-right MAGA to what’s left of the center ranks – to produce a largely agreed agenda.
But the preamble is a concise one-page “commitment”, essentially a pocket card, although it is expected to be filled in with the kind of detail required to make laws.
“They talk about a lot of problems,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “They don’t have many solutions.”
Traveling to battleground Pennsylvania, a state with which Biden has emotional ties from his early childhood, McCarthy plans to counter the president’s Labor Day weekend speech, in which he warned of rising GOP extremism after attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with a more upbeat message.
The event is more of a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers rather than a wake-up call in a uniquely contested state.
Along with many of the five House seats Republicans believe they can pick up in Pennsylvania in November, the state has one of the most watched Senate races, between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, which will help to determine the control of Congress. Topping the ticket is the seismic gubernatorial matchup between the GOP’s Doug Mastriano, seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.
“If you’re a hard-working, populist person, and you want to be angry, Kevin is a little bit frustrated because he’s not going to be angry enough for you,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to implement and pass your values into legislation, he’s a really good leader and organizer.”
Gingrich is working with McCarthy and his staff to shape the style and substance of the proposal. The former speaker, who was asked by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand Thursday in Washington, joining McCarthy when he revealed the plans privately to House Republicans, who were mixed on the approach.
For the most part, the GOP’s pocket card hits big milestones — energy independence, security and an end to liberal social policies, especially in schooling.
Conservative Republicans privately complain that McCarthy is not pushing hard enough on their priorities, as he tries to appeal to a wider range of voters and bring the party together.
Many are eager to launch investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s family, with some calling for impeachment. Legislatively, some House Republicans want to fulfill the party’s promise to ban abortion, supporting the bill of the Senate Lindsey Graham banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In a sign of the pressure ahead on McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to plans by Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to ban many gender reassignment procedures for minors, celebrating Georgia as courageous for such an approach. take that high.
She and others were invited to join Friday’s event, with McCarthy seeking their support.
Republican Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the Liberal Conservative Caucus, has proposed withholding federal funds as leverage for policy priorities, the tactic that has engineered government shutdowns in the past.
“And putting out principles like, you know, ‘Well, we’re going to secure the border.’ I mean, okay, but what are we going to do about it?” Roy said. “At the end of the day, I want specific actionable items that show we’re going to fight for the American people.”
Interestingly, McCarthy has only proposed a plan if Republicans gain control of the House chamber. In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell refused to advance an agenda, preferring simply to run against Biden and the Democrats in the midterm election.
“Kevin has done a really good job of being able to be a speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with that? Schlapp said. “This helps as a road map.”
__ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.