McCarthy: GOP Congress will make government work
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office MORE (R-Calif.) on Wednesday promised that a Republican Congress would focus next year on reforming federal agencies to "make government functional again."

In a memo to House Republicans that in ways seemed intended to double as a midterm-election pledge, McCarthy said that the chamber's agenda would highlight ways to streamline agencies amid public concern over government competency. [READ MCCARTHY MEMO.]

In order to make his case that government was not functioning as it should, McCarthy cited recent controversies like the Department of Veterans Affairs backlog, Internal Revenue Service targeting of nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status, the rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov, the Secret Service's mishandling of security breaches at the White House and the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak.

"Every week seems to bring a new revelation of government agencies failing to accomplish their core functions," McCarthy wrote.

But the memo offered only a taste, rather than a full specific description, of the agenda for the new Congress starting in January.

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"Restoring competency in government requires both shrinking government to its appropriate scope and mission and reforming how government operates in its core sphere," McCarthy wrote. "The inability of the government to accomplish its most basic tasks has eroded the public’s trust in government, as polls have repeatedly shown. Worse, throughout the country there is an emerging sense of resignation that our great country is on the decline."

The House majority leader indicated that a GOP-controlled Senate would advance bills he says Democrats have ignored, such as a measure to reform the pipeline permitting process. Consequently, Republicans could use the opportunity to present themselves as promoting government competency and pin the blame on President Obama for administrative shortcomings ahead of the 2016 elections.  

"The recent blunders and scandals are not just the product of failed policy, but represent serious management failures by the President and his administration," McCarthy wrote. "Some of these problems cannot be fully addressed without a change of administration."

McCarthy further announced that the House could change some of its procedural protocols, noting "we must legislate differently in order to restore trust in government."

Those changes would include expiration dates for new agency reports to Congress in all legislation. Federal agencies and nonprofits currently submit more than 4,000 different reports to Congress on a wide range of topics, many of which are no longer considered relevant.

"We can save taxpayer money and thousands of hours of time by sunsetting these requirements," McCarthy wrote.

Another legislative change could include reforms to the regulatory process, such as increasing opportunities for the public to comment on proposed regulations, in any bills that authorize or require new regulations, McCarthy said.

"Unfortunately, these bills have not advanced in the Senate. Yet, there is no reason we cannot work towards implementing these reforms on an agency by agency or program by program basis," McCarthy said.