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House GOP unveils its legislative roadmap if they win back the House in November

House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy speaks in Monongahela, Pa., on Friday, about Republicans' agenda if they regain control of the House in the midterm elections.
Barry Reeger
/
AP
House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy speaks in Monongahela, Pa., on Friday, about Republicans' agenda if they regain control of the House in the midterm elections.

Updated September 23, 2022 at 2:29 PM ET

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took the Republican legislative roadmap to suburban Pittsburgh Friday, asking voters for victories in the midterm elections that would let the GOP control the House.

Flanked by Republican members of Congress, McCarthy gathered an enthusiastic audience in a manufacturing business in Monongahela, Pa., and said his party knows what Americans want.

"If you're like everybody else we hear: whether you can afford it, whether you feel safe, the challenge of your children getting left behind, or a government that's run amok, who has a plan to change that course? We do," he said.

The "Commitment to America" includes four broad pillars focusing on the economy, safety, individual freedom and government accountability. Big on ideas ("expand U.S. manufacturing") but short on policy specifics, the agenda is in keeping with tradition established in 1994 with Rep. Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America," where the minority party releases their agenda priorities ahead of Election Day.

Gingrich met privately with House Republicans Thursday on Capitol Hill as lawmakers were briefed on the agenda before its unveiling.

House Republicans held the event to tout the agenda as the 2022 campaign comes to a close in about seven weeks. While early 2022 GOP electoral strength has tightened in polls in recent months, the party is still favored to win at least a narrow majority in November, and McCarthy is poised to become speaker if the party succeeds.

The agenda is the product of months of deliberations from rank-and-file Republicans

Much of the agenda relies on traditional conservative orthodoxy — support for tax cuts and reductions in government spending — but also weighs in on some divisive cultural issues. For example, Republicans pledge to support legislation to ensure "that only women can compete in women's sports" — which would seek to ban trans women from playing on women's sports teams. Republicans also broadly pledge to advance federal legislation to restrict abortion access promising to "protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers." The agenda also signals opposition to any legislation to restrict gun rights, pledging to "safeguard" the Second Amendment.

House Republicans' legislative ambitions would be weakened by divided government; regardless of what happens with control of the Senate, President Biden is unlikely to support much if any of a partisan GOP agenda. But the majority would provide Republicans with oversight and investigative authority over the administration and they plan to use it.

Republicans will "conduct rigorous oversight" and "require the White House to answer for its incompetence at home and abroad," with plans to hold hearings on: the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. withdrawal of Afghanistan, the Justice Department's investigation into former President Donald Trump and the alleged illegal possession of classified documents at his Florida estate.

Pelosi insists Democrats will maintain the majority

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, derided the Commitment to America as "doubling down on an extreme MAGA agenda." Pelosi has been bullish that Democrats will defy historical trends and hold on to their majority. In particular, Democrats believe the Supreme Court decision to overturn a federal right to abortion access will tip competitive races in their favor. A pair of Democratic victories in House special elections in New York and Alaska have given the party cause for optimism that a "red wave" is not on the horizon.

"We fully intend to hold the House," she told reporters last week, "And even though there are some among you who belittle my political instincts and the rest, I got us here twice to the majority, and I don't intend to [give it up]."

Republican leaders have also made clear they plan to run the House differently than Democrats have, notably by promising to end the practice of remote proxy voting that was approved as an emergency measure in response to the pandemic.

"We've got many votes, big votes, where over 100 members of Congress weren't even here in person voting, that will change under a House Republican majority," GOP Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters this week. Scalise intends to run for majority leader, a position that oversees the floor schedule and operations, if Republicans win control.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.