(Bloomberg) — The U.S. House Republicans who helped force out former Speaker John Boehner are readying their next act: a multi-point manifesto demanding quick action on long-time conservative priorities.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus are preparing a “Contract With America II” that would call for House votes in the first 100 days of 2016 on replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), overhauling entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and repealing the estate tax.
An early draft of the plan obtained by Bloomberg News also calls for legislation to slash government regulations by 20 percent, cut corporate tax rates and expand offshore oil drilling. Efforts are still under way to finalize contents of the “contract,” which lawmakers say they hope will become the basis of House Republicans’ 2016 agenda.
The plan is tentatively named after the “Contract With America” that Newt Gingrich and other Republicans used to describe their pledges in the 1994 election campaign that swept the party into the House majority.
Two decades later, members of the Freedom Caucus have been waging war on a Republican establishment they say has gone astray. They’ve already toppled Boehner of Ohio as speaker and helped quash House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid to take over the job.
Holding to account
The plan would help conservatives hold new Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders to account. Even before Ryan of Wisconsin became the new speaker, they extracted promises from him to give more power to rank-and-file House members.
Some Freedom Caucus members say the new “contract” is intended to show the group can do more than throw rocks at the Republican establishment by devising a more-positive legislative agenda.
“We’ve been working on that plan and hope to introduce it,” said Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a founding Freedom Caucus member.
Most of the three-dozen Freedom Caucus members haven’t signed-off on a final version, said Meadows, interviewed Wednesday as he made the rounds of Veterans Day events and other appointments in his district covering the western tip of North Carolina.
“That is accurate,” said Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho. He called what is now on paper “truly a first draft” that might see changes. He said he’s not sure the final document will ultimately be called another “Contract With America.”
Labrador added in an interview: “You can’t be just against the Obama agenda, or the Clinton agenda.”
“There are conservative ideas and policies we want to pitch to the conference and that we want to be for,” he said.
Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, the Freedom Caucus member who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 Republican primary election, is among those who have advocated for the party’s leaders to commit on paper to specific principles and promises. Brat even put out his own list of public commitments in October that a speaker and other House leaders should make, including balancing the federal budget within 10 years and broadening opportunity for members to fully debate legislation on the House floor.