WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy rolled out Republicans' priorities of tax breaks and police funding Tuesday, the GOP's calling card to voters as they try to wrest back seats from Democrats in a long-shot November election bid for majority control.
Republicans campaigning alongside President Donald Trump are promising to restore the country to the way it was before the COVID-19 crisis hit, tapping into the same themes of health care and infrastructure investment that have been mainstays of the Democratic platform. They're also taking a page from Trump's playbook by portraying Democrats as aligned with the racial injustice protests in American cities, vowing a tougher approach.
“Republicans helped build the greatest economy in a generation and the American way of life was thriving,” said McCarthy, flanked by lawmakers on the steps of the Capitol, to present the “Commitment to America.” He said, “We will do it again.”
Republicans are bracing for a tough campaign for control of Congress in the fall, needing to flip some 19 seats to take over control of the House from Democrats. The Senate has a slim GOP majority that's at risk.
The GOP rollout comes as House Democrats are vowing to try again to pass a new round of coronavirus relief after a Senate bill collapsed last week. Democrats said late Monday at the Capitol that leadership would consider extending the legislative session into October if a new aid bill could be approved.
House Republicans typically present their own priorities for the campaigns, dating back 30 years to then-leader Newt Gingrich's “Contract with America.” But it's especially important this year after the broader Republican Party under Trump declined to present a GOP platform at the Republican National Convention.
“We need to double down on a commitment to God and the Constitution,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif.
The House Republicans' economic priorities include new tax breaks for businesses, forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans for companies struggling during the coronavirus shutdown, and making the 2017 GOP tax cuts for families permanent.
To fight the virus outbreak, Republicans call for tripling COVID-19 testing and investing in therapeutics for treatments. Taking a page from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, they vow to preserve insurance coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions — even though Republicans are suing to end health care coverage under the 2010 law.
They promise more money for police departments and commitments to social issues, including abortion rights and access to firearms.
As lawmakers gathered Tuesday outside the Capitol, the No. 2 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Sclaise, R-La., the GOP Whip, said, the party will "renew and restore” the nation.