Bullish GOP hones legislative plans for 2025

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House Republicans are prepping their legislative plans for 2025 with eyes on controlling all levers of power in Washington next year.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Wednesday that he’s bullish about the GOP’s chances of not only keeping control of the House, but also seizing the Senate and sending former President Trump back to the White House for a second term.

With that trifecta in mind, Republican leaders are already honing a bold strategy to send a slate of promised policy priorities — everything from tax cuts and deregulation to border security and deficit reduction — to Trump’s desk as swiftly as possible.

“When he comes in, we’ve got to have a very aggressive first-100-days agenda,” said Johnson, who huddled Wednesday with Senate Republicans during their weekly lunch gathering.

“The first year will be important, and I think we cannot waste a moment because there’s so many things to do. So in light of that, we’re having discussions with [him] and his team now, and amongst ourselves, to plan accordingly.” 

Johnson in the meeting with the Senate GOP promoted the idea of using an obscure budget procedure, known as reconciliation, to enact major conservative legislation that’s certain to be opposed overwhelmingly by Democrats in both chambers. 

“You don’t put the cart before the horse,” Johnson said. “But you do have to be prepared to lead, and we’re gonna be prepared.”

GOP leaders have struggled throughout this Congress to unite their warring conference behind the party’s priorities.

Johnson’s remarks, which are being echoed across the conference, are an indication Republicans are eager to turn the page on the internal sniping and demonstrate to voters that they can deliver on a conservative agenda beginning in the earliest days of 2025 — an agenda left largely unrealized given the divided government that currently defines Washington. 

Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday, when he’ll huddle separately with Republicans in both the House and Senate, provides an early opportunity to do so. 

The former president still has an iron grip on the GOP, despite his recent conviction on 34 felony counts related to paying hush money to a porn star.

And Trump’s appearance in Washington will highlight a major theme of the GOP’s campaign strategy this year: that President Biden and the Democrats have “weaponized” the Department of Justice (DOJ) to go after conservatives, and only Trump and the Republicans are willing and able to rein it in to create an even playing field. 

Indeed, Johnson this month laid out the contours of a three-pronged plan to defang the DOJ, promising efforts to use Congress’s powers of the purse, oversight authority and legislative prerogatives to put new limits on the agency’s powers.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that effort will include supporting whistleblowers, putting new limits on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other avenues for cracking down on the Justice Department.

“We’re looking at, obviously, the Justice Department; we’re looking at the fact that FBI whistleblowers say they’ve been retaliated against,” Jordan said. “So we’re looking at all those kinds of things.”

But the Justice reforms are just one in a long and growing list of policy priorities Republicans are considering if they take over Washington next year.

Johnson’s reconciliation pitch is designed, at least in part, to extend the sweeping tax cuts Republicans enacted in 2017 under Trump — the last time they controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. While both parties support that extension for the cuts benefiting working- and middle-class taxpayers, Democratic leaders want the corporate and upper-income cuts to expire, making reconciliation a crucial part of the GOP’s design. 

“We have to make the tax cuts permanent because they’ll expire [in the] first part of the year, and then through the budget reconciliation process we’ll be doing a number of things to fix the problems that the Biden administration has created,” Johnson said.

Other Republicans are already identifying their own wish lists. 

“There’s a lot of work to be done for the American people in a short amount of time, and we still have to cut spending,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said. “And having all levers to actually get spending under control is probably going to be the biggest thing we get to do, because that sets the trajectory going forward.”

To achieve their goals, Republicans will need to win all levers of power in November’s elections.

Republicans had a brief scare Tuesday in the special election for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, where Republican Michael Rulli beat Democrat Michael Kripchak by just more than 9 percentage points — an extreme underperformance for a GOP candidate in an R+28 district.

Johnson, however, is confident that with Trump at the top of the GOP ticket — and with Biden’s approval rating well underwater — the party will succeed. 

“If you look at the latest polling, everyone, almost everyone now, is projecting that the Republicans will retake the Senate, that we will grow the House majority, and that we’ll have the White House as well,” he said. “When you have unified government like that, it comes with great responsibility, and I look forward to those days and fixing lots and lots of things.”

Rank-and-file Republicans are also sanguine on their odds. Some, however, are hedging predictions with a dose of warning. 

“I share that optimism, but optimism doesn’t mean much without work,” Donalds said. “There’s a lot of campaign work ahead of us.”

They will also have to tamp down the internal fighting that has plagued the conference all Congress and, many have argued, has held the chamber back from moving substantive policy.

Eight House Republicans joined with all Democrats in October to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), marking the first time in history that someone was toppled from the top job. A fight over McCarthy’s successor ensued as Republicans were unable to come to a consensus, bringing the House floor to a screeching halt for roughly three weeks, with lawmakers unable to consider any legislation.

Since the Speakership fight, the infighting has not died down. Some Republicans have openly expressed their unhappiness with Johnson’s leadership, which led to another — albeit unsuccessful — coup attempt last month.

At least one top Republican, however, is confident that if the trifecta comes to fruition, House GOP lawmakers will turn down the temperature with one another.

“The sheriff will be in town and calling the president of the United States,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “That will make a difference.”

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