Future House Republican Agenda: With the Beltway engrossed—yet again—in the endless daily speculations about the metaphysical state of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) mind, we thought we’d take a different tack and provide a possible picture of the next Congress.
For this exercise, we’re focused on the House. Assuming current voter attitudes hold—according to an astonishing Monmouth poll, nearly 9 in 10 voters think the country is on the wrong track—Republicans are in a commanding position to retake the House in November. Obviously, that means the legislative and political agenda will change, but maybe not in the way many assume.
Change is always unsettling. Seeking the ballast of certainty, some think that with a House Republican majority, what’s past is prologue. What’s coming, in other words, is merely a variation on the age of Gingrich, Boehner, and Ryan. Put another way, for the GOP, the thinking goes, the business of America is business.
Not necessarily. For House Republicans, it’s probably more accurate to say: the business of America is small business. And even more fundamentally, according to the Republicans we talk with, are the recent high-profile fights over what they derisively call “corporate wokeism.” These fights, in this view, represent an epic clash for the heart and soul of America. Beltway insiders therefore should expect a populist backlash that could take some in the business community by surprise.
What would this mean in practice? Probably the best way to capture what’s coming are these three letters: ESG, which stand for “environment, social, and governance.” It’s not our place to enter into this heated debate. We’re merely describing Republicans who tell us that ESG is a philosophical, indeed in some cases an ideological, movement against free markets, traditional mores, and the American energy industry (read: oil, gas, and coal).
As these Republicans see it, ESG is the catch-all for a movement arrayed against the interests of their constituents in red America. Corporate power—again, in their view—is being wielded for the benefit of an elite few that remain, by conscious choice, several steps removed from the daily concerns of ordinary citizens. High prices for gas, groceries, and much else—Republicans see these indicators as symptoms of wokeness run amok. And they will use their newfound power to fight on behalf of the voters who put them in charge.
This dynamic is real, and it will be felt in legislation passed and oversight hearings held, some of it directly targeting companies who are viewed as instigators and bullies in the culture wars. This posture will undoubtedly change how CEOs and trade associations interact with the new Republican majority—and vice versa. Administration officials, such as Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler, will also feel burdened by Republican oversight with near-continuous requests to testify in front of lawmakers in an attempt to wear them down and slow down Biden’s regulatory efforts.
It is also important to understand leadership in the House GOP. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), if he is elected as Speaker by his peers, will not intervene and micromanage his committee chairs. In contrast to the top-down approach of Speakers John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI), McCarthy will let committees work their will, and develop their own legislative and oversight priorities. He will task them with getting consensus within the conference, rather than twisting arms to enforce his will from on high.
Below we delineate some of the issues and concepts we expect from GOP committee chairs. This agenda has been painstakingly developed for months by various ranking members. Throughout August, House Republicans will participate in listening tour events with constituents and road test policies and themes the task forces have been crafting. This will end in September with the official rollout of the “Commitment to America” policy agenda. There will be four key areas: Success for Our Kids, Safe Communities, A Secure Economy, and Accountability in Government.
With the Biden Administration in power, Republicans will use the task forces not just to paint a stark contrast on the campaign trail but to govern—and to do so starting on Day 1. This will no doubt include legislation as well as checks and balances through strict oversight of President Biden’s policies.
Buckets: Keep Communities Safe; A Pro-Growth Economy; Strong Future for Households:
- Expand access to telemedicine.
- Focus on mental health.
- Opioid/Fentanyl treatment and prevention of importing across borders.
- Strengthen and modernize the country’s medical stockpile to prepare for future pandemics.
- Oppose efforts to defund the police.
- Recommend increased funding for police training, community policing, and police equipment.
- Demand punishment for violent crimes.
- Rebuild our military to Trump-era levels.
- Strong focus on the border – demanding the administration do more.
- Remain in Mexico policy.
- Finish the wall.
- Modernize immigration laws.
- Strong focus on small businesses.
- Stop Build Back Better.
- Restore energy independence and lower these gas prices.
- Establish and reinforce strong power grids.
- ESG legislation/clarification that hits multiple business sectors.
- Extend the child tax credit for families.
- Opportunity Zone credits in distressed communities.
- Focus on innovative tax policies that encourage American technology growth.
- Free speech: with a focus on “woke” culture/tech/censorship.
- Antitrust issues.
- Privacy and data security.
Big Focus on China:
- Implement as many of the China Task Force recommendations as possible.
- Focus on supply chain with respect to medicine, protective medical equipment, and technology out of China.
- Focus on domestic critical mineral production.
- Increased domestic manufacturing.
- Establish a supply chain that makes us less reliable to China or other nations.
- Opportunities for free and fair trade deals – in the model of USMCA.
- Efforts to bring high-speed internet to every household in the country.
- Promote school choice.
- Pass the Parents Bill of Rights.
- With respect to infrastructure – not just money. But a goal of cutting the permitting process time in half.
- Skills/workforce legislation to make it easy for the American workforce to acquire a good-paying job. Technical education legislation.
- Republicans are of the belief that the White House is already deciding what it can do on its own. If they move forward with heavy executive action – look for the Republicans on the Hill to add some of those actions to the oversight calendar.
- Also, the border, Afghanistan withdrawal, etc. will be on the agenda most likely.