House Republicans set to unveil policy agenda Thursday

2010 won't be the first time moderate Republicans have suffered at the polls and been at odds with more conservative elements in their party.
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 21, 2010; 8:00 PM

House Republicans will release their long-awaited governing agenda on Thursday at an event at a hardware store in Sterling, Va., offering a set of proposals they would look to enact if they control Congress after the midterm elections.

Attempting to rebut the Democrats' charge that the GOP is the "Party of No,"about a dozen Republicans, led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), are expected to attend the unveiling. The campaign plan is modeled on the 1994 "Contract With America," released by the party before it took the majority of seats in both chambers in that year's elections.

The Republicans will hold a round-table Thursday with small business owners and then a news conference at Tart Lumber Co. to discuss their proposals, they announced Tuesday.

GOP leaders have not said what policy ideas will be included, but they are expected to combine ideas that the party has proposed over the past 20 months with concepts pushed by the growing grass-roots "tea party" movement.

"We want to show the American people we are listening and we believe Washington has run roughshod over the American people," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who worked in one of the informal groups of Republicans that helped frame the document.

House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) responded, "They want to put a new face with the same policies, and the American people will reject it."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday, "What you're going to see the Republicans roll out on Thursday will help the president's message of [the GOP] wanting to go back to the ideas of 2008."

One tea party proposal under consideration for the Republican agenda calls for a requirement that before a bill is passed, Congress cite what provision in the Constitution specifically gives it the power to enact laws on that issue. Republican plans on stimulating the economy and reforming health care that have been rejected by congressional Democrats could also be in included.

The presentation will complete a months-long process by party leaders to arrive at a set of ideas. That project has caused some tension within the GOP. Some lawmakers have demanded it address specific issues such as Social Security, and social conservatives have pushed for it to include issues such as abortion. But pollsters and strategists argue Republicans should make the election about the Democrats and President Obama and avoid putting out any specific or controversial ideas.

The proposals are likely to split the difference between those views. The plan is not expected to include proposals such as raising the retirement age for Social Security that could worry key electoral blocks, but it will provide some policy proposals that Democrats could use to attack GOP candidates on the campaign trail.

Some of the ideas that will probably be included are keeping in place the tax cuts passed under President Bush for all income levels, holding weekly votes in Congress on proposals to cut government spending, requiring bills to be posted online three days before any vote, and repealing the health-care law passed earlier this year.

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