MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
House Republicans gathered in a commercial warehouse outside Pittsburgh today. They were there to outline their agenda if the party takes control of the House in November. They're calling it the commitment to America. Here's Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
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KEVIN MCCARTHY: So if you're like everybody else we hear, whether you can afford it, whether you feel safe, the challenge of your children getting lost behind or our government that's run amok, who has a plan to change that course? We do.
KELLY: McCarthy is on track to become speaker of the House next year if Republicans are successful. NPR political correspondent Susan Davis has been digging into the Republicans' agenda. Hi, Sue.
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey there.
KELLY: So what are the key components of this agenda?
DAVIS: Well, they're focused on four big themes - no surprises - the economy, safety, personal freedom and government accountability. There's a lot of big ideas in this plan. It's pretty short on policy specifics. For example, their plan on inflation and in boosting the economy relies on some pretty familiar conservative ideas. They want to boost manufacturing, keep taxes low and cut government spending. Polls have consistently shown that Republicans have an edge with voters when they're asked who best to handle the economy, and this has been a key focus of campaigns in the close. Here's McCarthy again from today.
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MCCARTHY: We want an economy that is strong. That means you can fill up your tank. You can buy the groceries. You have enough money left over to go to Disneyland and save for a future.
DAVIS: Republicans are not shying away from social issues in this either, and that might make Democrats happy as well. You know, they say they will work to pass bills to enact federal restrictions on abortion access. They'll vote to protect gun rights and new bills to block trans women from participating on women's sports teams. Republicans are also really heavily focused on crime right now, you know, from promises to focus more on securing the U.S.-Mexico border as well as a pledge to put 200,000 more cops on the streets.
KELLY: Beyond legislation, Republicans also would like to launch all kinds of investigations into the Biden administration. What are they planning?
DAVIS: It's a long list, and a lot of it is really motivated by grievances against the Democratic Party and the Biden administration. They want to look at things like the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a lot of interest in Dr. Anthony Fauci and how the CDC managed the pandemic, also interest in the Biden family, particularly his son, Hunter Biden, and his business ties. And they really want to look at the - how the Justice Department is handling this ongoing investigation into former President Donald Trump with many, many more other investigations planned.
You know, Mary Louise, this is probably where a Republican majority would be the most potent. Legislatively, they're probably not going to be able to enact much of this agenda as long as President Biden's in the White House. But they're going to have significant oversight authority. They're going to have subpoena power, and it's going to give Republicans a two-year platform to basically attack the president at every angle, especially as he's considering running for reelection.
KELLY: Well, where would you put the chances that we're going to have a GOP majority in the House? We've got Election Day looming in seven weeks or so. History favors the party out of power making gains in midterm elections. What are the expectations for Republicans this time?
DAVIS: Republicans are still favored to win, but here's why. You know, even if you set aside all these unique political dynamics of 2022, this is the first election under new congressional districts that were drawn after the 2020 census, and Republicans had the advantage in more states in defining those districts. So they could get close to the five seats they need to get the majority just based on these new district lines. If you step back, there's only about two to three dozen seats even in play in this election. But with all those caveats, like, this is a really volatile election year. Most of these competitive races are polling within a margin of error. They're kind of going to be dogfights until the very end. And even election forecasters are not ruling out the chance the Democrats could surprise all, break with historical precedent and retain a very small majority.
KELLY: And what about the man who would be king? Any - what's your sense of how McCarthy would lead the House as speaker?
DAVIS: You know, he wants to undo as much as possible for how Democrats ran the House. One example is they've already pledged to end this practice of remote proxy voting that was enacted during the pandemic. McCarthy's biggest challenge, though, is probably going to be keeping his own party unified. If Republicans win, this is going to be an even more conservative majority than it was under President Trump - fewer moderates, more conservatives, including more 2020 election deniers and people who identify with the right wing of the party.
KELLY: That is NPR's Susan Davis. Thank you.
DAVIS: You're welcome.
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