Republicans will unveil their new “Contract With America” in Virginia on Thursday as they try to present a clear alternative to the Democrat-led Congress heading into the midterm elections.
The new document — modeled after the original “Contract With America,” credited with helping Republicans win the House in 1994 — will highlight what the GOP would stand for if it were to return to power in Congress. Polls show Republicans have a strong chance of winning back the House this fall, and taking the Senate is not considered out of reach.
“House Republicans have been listening to the American people, and we’re going to put forth a positive agenda that focuses on solutions for the top priorities of the nation,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for America Speaking Out.
For much of the last two years, Republicans have won points from voters chiefly by opposing the Obama administration’s agenda.
But now, with momentum on their side for a possible takeover of Congress, Republicans are moving beyond their opposition to President Obama and developing a more concrete legislative agenda.
GOP leaders have already hinted at some of the ideas that could be included in the contract. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), for instance, has called for a two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts and a reduction in spending to 2008 levels. Obama and Democratic leaders, in contrast, want to let the tax breaks for upper-income individuals and families expire.
Republicans have also pressed for repeal of the healthcare reform law, and for replacing it with new reforms. Some GOP figures have also called for repealing the Wall Street reform law that established a new regulatory structure for the financial sector.
Social conservatives have said they’re confident their priorities will be well-represented in the contract.
Democrats, for their part, are eager to have a look at the new GOP agenda. They are planning their own event on Thursday to outline the “Real Republican Agenda,” an extension of an effort they’ve made in recent weeks to argue that the GOP would revive unpopular initiatives.
“Washington Republicans are finally getting around to releasing an agenda for this Congress. What’s shocking is that it took them more than 20 months to repackage a plan that’s no different from the one that caused the Great Bush Recession,” said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The GOP document will likely be different from the 1994 contract pioneered by Newt Gingrich (Ga.), the GOP leader who became Speaker after landslides handed Republicans the House and Senate that cycle.
The original contract promised a floor vote within 100 days on a variety of legislative initiatives, from a balanced-budget amendment to term limits to a crime-fighting package. GOP officials have not said whether the new Contract will set a timeline for floor votes.
Republicans also won’t sign the new governing document, as candidates did during a highly publicized rollout event in 1994.
—This story was posted at 11:06 a.m. and updated at 12:23 p.m. and 7:33 p.m.