By Vicki Needham - 05/29/10 10:00 AM EDT
Americans can get more involved in the nation's issues through a new congressional initiative, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in the Republicans' weekly address.
McCarthy, the House Republicans’ chief deputy whip, touted "America Speaking Out," a new website at which people can share and debate ideas to create "a new agenda rooted in principles of smaller, more accountable and less costly government."
House Republicans will hold meetings during next week's Memorial Day week-long work period to introduce constituents to the forum by soliciting ideas through the Internet, mobile phone apps, Facebook and other social media, McCarthy said.
“Going forward, we will focus in on the priorities of the American people and discuss how our principles of limited, more accountable government can be used to address them," he said. "Finally, after this conversation and debate, we will begin to introduce solutions and fight for them right away."
On Friday, Democrats sought to kill the "America Speaking Out" initiative, using the GOP's own "YouCut" program, which solicits votes for a variety of suggested budget cuts. Republicans have lost two straight YouCut House votes targeting the elimination of some Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds from the stimulus bill last week and increases to non-military federal salaries this week.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it would look to cut from the budget of the program as a taxpayer-funded program that, if it were used for campaigning purposes, would be a violation of House rules.
Republicans noted that Democrats' previous "Six for '06" election year effort was also hosted on a taxpayer-funded website. The GOP says it's inconsistent for Democrats to criticize the "America Speaking Out" site now.
Democrats describe "America Speaking Out" as a "partisan initiative," and say Republicans "have refused to disclose the total cost" of the project to taxpayers.
But McCarthy and other House Republicans are pushing the program as a way for Americans to "once again have a role in driving America’s agenda."
“Over the last 18 months, Democrats running Washington have failed to listen to the American people," McCarthy said "Instead, they’ve pursued a partisan agenda that doesn’t reflect the priorities of the American people, who are fed up with the spending, the taxes, the bailouts and the debt being piled on to our kids and grandkids."