MONONGAHELA, Pa. (AP) — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy heads to Pennsylvania on Friday to directly confront President Joe Biden and the party in power, unveiling a midterm election agenda with sweeping Trump-like promises despite her sometimes spotty GOP record Parliament. and governance in Congress.
McCarthy, who is poised to grab the speaker’s gavel if Republicans win control of the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy used by former President Newt Gingrich to ignite voter enthusiasm and sweep control of the House. in a landslide in 1994.
The House GOP’s “Pledge to America” nods to that earlier era but updates it for Trump, with economic, border and social policies stirring the former president’s deep well of supporters in often-forgotten areas like this rusted landscape outside of Pittsburgh.
“We have a blueprint for a new direction for America,” McCarthy told The Associated Press.
On Friday, the House GOP leader will stand with other lawmakers to lay out the GOP agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition that makes up the House minority — and the GOP itself. The GOP has shifted from its focus on small government, low taxes and individual liberties to a more populist, nationalist and, at times, far-right party, essentially led by Donald Trump, who remains popular despite intensifying state and federal investigations against him.
Buoyed by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” voters, Republicans need to pick up just a handful of seats to regain control of the closely divided House and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from assured.
While Republicans and Trump passed legislative tax cuts, the GOP’s last major campaign promise, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, collapsed in failure. 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 ousted by partisan infighting.
“House Republicans are very good at running people out of town,” said Matt Schlapp, president of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.
McCarthy, first elected to office in 2006, is among the remaining political survivors of those House Republican battles and is a new style of leader who has shown more skill at communicating than legislating.
A key architect of the 2010 Tea Party Republican takeover, the California Republican personally recruited newcomers to Congress — many who had never served in public office and are long gone. McCarthy was an early supporter of Trump and has remained close to the former president, relying on his high-profile supporters to promote Republican congressional candidates. He abandoned an earlier attempt to become speaker when support from his colleagues drifted away.
“Commitment to America” reflects 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 GOP — from far-right MAGA to what’s left of the more centrist ranks — to craft a mostly agreed-upon agenda.
But the one-page preamble to the “commitment” is brief, essentially a pocket card, although it is expected to be filled with the kind of detail needed to enact laws.
“They’re talking about a lot of problems,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “They don’t have many solutions.”
Traveling to the battleground state of Pennsylvania, a state where Biden has maintained emotional ties since his early childhood, McCarthy aims to counter the president’s fiery Labor Day weekend speech, in which he warned of growing extremism in the GOP after the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill. with a more optimistic message.
The event is being billed more as a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers than a provocative speech in a uniquely contested state.
Along with nearly five House seats Republicans believe they can take in Pennsylvania in November, the state has one of the most popular Senate races between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, who will help determine congressional control. At the top of the ticket is the seismic gubernatorial showdown between GOP Doug Mastriano, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.
“If you’re a hardliner, a populist, and you really want anger, Kevin is a little disappointing because he’s not going to be angry enough for you,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to see your values implemented and passed into law, he’s a very good leader and organizer.”
Gingrich is working with McCarthy and his team to craft the proposal’s style and substance. The former speaker, who was asked by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand Thursday in Washington, along with McCarthy as he revealed the plans privately to House Republicans, who had mixed opinions.
Mainly, the Democratic Party’s pocket card hits big shots – energy independence, security and an end to liberal social policies, especially in school.
Conservative Republicans privately complain that McCarthy is not leaning hard enough on their priorities as he tries to appeal to a wider range of voters and keep 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 pledge to ban abortion by supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In a sign of pressure to come for McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to plans by Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green to prevent many sex-reassignment procedures for minors, calling the Georgian brave for taking such a tough approach.
She and others were invited to Friday’s event as McCarthy seeks their support.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has advocated withholding federal funds as a lever for policy priorities, the tactic that has created previous government shutdowns.
“Formulating, you know, principles of, ‘Well, we’re going to secure the border.’ OK, but what are we going to do about it?’ Roy said. “At the end of the day, I want concrete, actionable items that show we’re going to fight for the American people.”
Notably, McCarthy alone has proposed a plan if Republicans win control of the House. In the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell has refused to present an agenda, preferring simply to run against Biden and Democrats in the midterm elections.
“Kevin did a really good job of being able to be a speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with it? Schlapp said. “This helps as a road map.”
__ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.