McCarthy reveals House GOP’s big ideas, but challenges ahead

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MONONGAHELA, Pa. (AP) — Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy heads to Pennsylvania on Friday to directly confront President Joe Biden and the ruling party, unveiling a midterm platform with Trump-like promises despite the country’s sometimes spotty record. House GOP. and govern in Congress.

McCarthy, who is poised to grab the president’s gavel if Republicans take control of the House in the fall, hopes to replicate the strategy used by former Speaker Newt Gingrich to drum up voter enthusiasm and sweep control House during a landslide in 1994.

The House GOP’s “Pledge to America” ​​nods to that earlier era but updates it for Trump, with economic, border security and social policies to reawaken the deep well of America’s supporters. former president in often forgotten areas like this rusty landscape outside Pittsburgh.

“We have a plan for a new direction for America,” McCarthy told The Associated Press.

The House Republican leader will stand alongside other lawmakers on Friday to roll out the GOP agenda, offering a portrait of party unity despite the uneasy coalition that makes up the House minority — and the Republican Party itself. same. 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 led by Donald Trump, that remains popular despite deepening investigations state and federal against him.

Propelled by Trump “Make America Great Again” voters, Republicans need only a few seats to regain control of the tightly divided House and replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But even so, McCarthy’s ability to lead the House is far from guaranteed.

While Republicans and Trump have passed tax cuts, the GOP’s last big campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has ended 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 crushed by infighting.

“House Republicans are really good at driving people out of town,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition, or CPAC.

McCarthy, first elected in 2006, is among the remaining political survivors of those Republican battles in the House, and is a new style of leader who has shown more ability to communicate than to legislate.

A key architect of the Republican “tea party” takeover in 2010, the California Republican personally recruited newcomers to Congress – many of whom had never held public office and were long gone. McCarthy was an early Trump endorser and has remained close to the former president, relying on his high-profile endorsements to propel GOP candidates into Congress. He dropped an earlier bid to become a speaker when support from his colleagues drifted.

The “Commitment to America” ​​reflects the strength of McCarthy’s abilities, but also his weaknesses. He has spent more than a year bringing together the often warring factions of the House GOP — from the far-right MAGA to what remains of the most centrist ranks — to produce a generally agreed-upon platform.

But the preamble to a “pledge” page is succinct, essentially a pocket map, though it’s supposed to be filled with the kind of detail needed to make laws.

“They talk about a lot of issues,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “They don’t have many solutions.”

Traveling to the battleground of Pennsylvania, a state where Biden has had emotional ties since early childhood, McCarthy intends to counter the president’s fiery Labor Day weekend speech, in which he has warned of rising GOP extremism after the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, with a more optimistic message.

The event is framed as a conversation with the GOP leader and lawmakers rather than an emotional address in a particularly contested state.

With up to five House seats Republicans believe they can win in Pennsylvania in November, the state is hosting one of the most-watched Senate races, between Democrat John Fetterman and Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, that will help to determine congressional control. Topping the post is the seismic governor matchup between GOP’s Doug Mastriano, who was seen outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Democrat Josh Shapiro.

“If you’re a hardcore, populist, and really want anger, Kevin is a little frustrating because he won’t be mad at you enough,” Gingrich said. “On the other hand, if what you want is to have your values ​​implemented and enacted into legislation, he’s a very good leader and organizer.”

Gingrich worked with McCarthy and his team to craft the style and substance of the proposal. The former president, who was invited by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for an interview, was on hand in Washington on Thursday, joining McCarthy as he privately unveiled plans to Republicans to the House, who were mixed on the approach.

Most of the time, the GOP’s pocket card hits in broad strokes — energy independence, security, and an end to liberal social policies, especially in education.

Conservative Republicans privately complain that McCarthy is not focusing enough on their priorities, as he tries to appeal to a wider range of voters and maintain party cohesion.

Many are eager to launch investigations into the Biden administration and the president’s family, with some calling for impeachment. On the legislative front, some House Republicans want to uphold the party’s pledge to ban abortion, supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In a sign of the pressures to come for McCarthy, dozens of House GOP lawmakers signed on to Trump-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s plans to prevent numerous gender reassignment procedures for minors, celebrating the Georgian as brave for having took such a tough approach.

She and others have been invited to join Friday’s event, as McCarthy seeks their support.

Republican Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus party, argued for withholding federal funds as leverage for policy priorities, the tactic that has prompted past government shutdowns.

“Issue like, you know, principles about, ‘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 pieces that will show that we’re going to fight for the American people.

Of note, only McCarthy has come up with a plan if Republicans take control of the House chamber. In the Senate, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declined to offer a platform, preferring to simply run against Biden and the Democrats in the midterm elections.

“Kevin has done a really good job being in a position to become the speaker. And then the question is, what do you do with that? Schlapp said. “That helps as a roadmap.”

__ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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