MONONGAHELA, Pa. — The sprint to Election Day is fully underway, but House Republicans are looking past November and eyeing what they’ll do in the likely event of winning a majority in the upper chamber.
They’ve hinted at parts of their agenda for months, but this week Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other members of House GOP leadership formally unveiled a package of proposed policy and messaging priorities for the next Congress.
McCarthy was joined by more than two dozen House GOP colleagues, with ideologies ranging from firebrand Freedom Caucus Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to moderate Republican Governance Group Chairman David Joyce (R-Ohio), at the rollout event at warehouse for an HVAC company about 45 minutes outside Pittsburgh.
Members answered friendly questions from some in the audience of around 150 parents, business owners, law enforcement officials and activists — with many news cameras and reporters watching.
Dubbed the “Commitment to America,” much of the written plan is vague, vowing to “curb wasteful government spending” and making a passing reference to abortion by saying the GOP will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.”
But the plan broadly lays out Republican priorities less than seven weeks before voters go to the polls. Republicans have also proposed some specifics and say other details would be worked out in committees.
Republicans need a net gain of just six seats to win control of the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, an outcome election analysts say is likely.
Here are five things Republicans say they would do with that control:
Take aim at the IRS
The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington is shown in this March 22, 2013 file photo.
House Republicans’ first bill, McCarthy announced at Friday’s rollout event, will aim to reverse the portion of the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this summer, that provides $80 billion to the IRS and significantly boosts staff. The additional funds are largely to target high-income earner compliance.
“On our very first bill, we’re going to repeal 87,000 IRS agents,” McCarthy said.
Republicans have repeatedly, and falsely, claimed the 87,000 new IRS employees, which would be added over the course of a decade, will be “agents” and raised the specter of an enforcement army banging on voters’ doors. In fact, many will work as support staff, auditors and replacements for those who leave the agency.
Launch a flood of investigations
FILE – Evacuees wait to board a plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30. 2021. (Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps via AP, File)
Perhaps the biggest tool for a GOP-led House with a Democratic president able to veto Republican bills would be the power to direct hearings and demand information and documents.
Republicans promise to “conduct rigorous oversight to rein in government abuse of power and corruption” and flaunted that they have already sent more than 500 requests for information and documents.
They plan to investigate the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the origins of the COVID-19 virus — with several House Republicans pledging to specifically investigate Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to Biden and longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — and policies on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We will give [Homeland Security] Secretary Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also said that he would look into the Department of Justice (DOJ) as chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
“The No. 1 thing is this weaponization of the DOJ against the American people,” Jordan said.
Those actions could also affect the DOJ’s investigation of former President Trump. After the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and seized classified documents, Republicans told Attorney General Merrick Garland to preserve his documents.
Republicans are also planning to probe the business activities of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, but lawmakers at the rollout event did not put focus on that.
Wade into school culture war issues
People gather to protest against HB1041, a bill to ban transgender women and girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity, during a rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Associated Press)
McCarthy’s plan calls to “defend fairness by ensuring that only women can compete in women’s sports,” and he has specifically said he would bring up the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.
That bill would to define sex “solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth” for purposes of Title IX in athletics. Support for the legislation ticked up as coverage of transgender athletes succeeding in women’s sports competitions, such as former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, increased.
Republicans also promise to “advance the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” legislation that was released last year in part as a response to frustrations about “woke” curriculum and COVID-19–related school closures that spilled over into heated school board meetings.
The bill would require school districts to post curriculum publicly, have teachers offer two in-person meetings with parents a year, have parents give consent before any medical exam at school and provide notice of any violence at school.
It is unlikely that either bill could pass in the Senate, or that Biden would sign it.
Push domestic energy and gas production
Domestic gas production has been a prominent issue for Republicans and one they are likely to continue to advocate for through legislation in a GOP-led House. (iStock)
Republicans put a large focus on increasing domestic energy as a means of lowering fuel prices and increasing the number of well-paying jobs.
The platform calls to “cut the permitting process time in half to reduce reliance on foreign countries.” House Republicans unveiled an energy and climate strategy earlier this year that promotes oil and gas, mining for critical minerals and hydropower.
If a GOP bill on climate makes it to Biden’s desk and he vetoes it, that would be future campaign fodder for Republicans.
“What kind of message does it send if it does get through to his desk and he has to veto it?” Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) told The Hill. “If that’s a choice he wants to make, well then he won’t win another term either.”
Scrutinize local crime policies
House Republicans have vowed to introduce legislation that supports police departments across the country if they take the House. (Associated Press)
High crime rates have been a major midterm campaign topic, and an NBC News poll released this week found the GOP with a 23-point edge over Democrats when voters were asked who could better handle the issue.
Republicans promise to bring up legislation to give recruiting and retention bonuses to police departments in hopes of combating national police staffing shortages. They also plan to probe policies of local district attorneys.
“House Republicans will immediately ensure that we hire 200,000 more police officers across this country to make sure that our communities are safe,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.). “We will go after the radical leftist prosecutors, DAs, who are refusing to abide by the rule of law, and are prioritizing criminals rather than the law-abiding citizens.”
The House passed four bills on Thursday that addressed policing, despite Democratic division.