GOP leaves Beltway to pitch new 'Pledge'

Republicans hoping to win back the House majority in November on Thursday formally unveiled a list of proposals that would present their governing agenda.

In a press conference held 30 miles from Capitol Hill at a hardware store in Sterling, Va., House Republican leaders promised they would cut spending, reduce taxes and repeal President Obama's healthcare law if they return to power.

ADVERTISEMENT
They also signaled they had learned lessons from when they lost power in 2006, after many of their supporters abandoned them amid growing deficits and ethical clouds.

“We get it. And this is why, when we outline in here, our Pledge to America, I can tell you, we are very serious about implementing our pledge,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the unveiling of the agenda.

The Republicans shed their coats and ties and wore button-downs and polo shirts for the press conference. The attire and location for the event were both part of an effort to create an outside-the-Beltway optic for the unveiling.

Much of the Pledge, modeled after the 1994 Contract with America, was leaked on Wednesday. Cable news networks, having already pored over the document, opted to carry President Obama’s speech to the United Nations at 10 a.m., rather than the Republicans' event.


Nonetheless, the lawmakers stressed the urgency of their "Pledge to America," calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow votes immediately on the proposals in the document.


“We challenge Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid, to bring these bills up,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the GOP's chief deputy whip who was tasked with generating the document.

Republicans have cast the governing agenda as only a set of initial proposals, with more to be added if the GOP manages to win the House or even the Senate in this fall's elections.

“It's about what needs to be done now -- first steps toward restoring fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C.,” Boehner said.

Other Republicans rallied around the House-led initiative, signaling party unity.

“We strongly support this effort, and together, House and Senate Republicans will continue to fight for these principles,” the Senate GOP leadership said in a joint statement.

“While the White House will retain the veto pen, House and Senate Republicans will focus on making America more competitive, reducing the size and cost of government, keeping our nation strong and secure, and reining in the massive health care costs and mandates imposed by the Democrats’ health spending bill.”

Republican Governors Association Chairman Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) also lent support on behalf of the GOP's gubernatorial incumbents and candidates.

“The House GOP’s pledge resembles the record of Republican governors who are already employing the major tenets of the agenda,” he said. “We continue to remain focused on creating jobs, cutting spending, balancing state budgets, and implementing sound policies on behalf of the American people.”

Some conservative voices in the blogosphere, however, have criticized the GOP document, and Democrats have cast the proposals as a retread of old ideas that they say cater to special interests.