For once, the GOP isn’t in retreat — they’re headed to one. After a few rocky years, the House’s new leadership team is ready to kick off a new chapter at its planning and strategy meetings in Baltimore this week. Many would say the year is already off to a good start after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) put the first-ever rebuke of ObamaCare and taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood on the president’s desk. Now, with Obama prepping for his final act, one last State of the Union speech, Republicans are chomping at the bit to help drive the messaging in a year pivotal to their — and the country’s — survival.
At this week’s retreat, that vision-casting will take plenty of forms, as Speaker Ryan puts his own stamp on the chamber. Reflective of a new generation of leadership, the Wisconsinite is departing from his predecessor’s centralization of power by involving the whole conference. And while the input from his rank-and-file is sure to be diverse, the GOP is keying in on the common themes of national security, poverty programs, tax reform, health care, and combatting Executive Branch lawlessness.
“…[M]y goal is that we as Republicans who don’t like these laws, don’t like the direction of the country, I think we have to be more than just an opposition party. We have to be a proposition party,” he insisted. After liberals chided the GOP for not having an alternative health care plan, Republicans seem determined to give them one. “If we don’t like [polices like ObamaCare], we have to show how we’d do things differently… On this and many other issues, we need to offer an alternative, and that’s exactly what I intend on having us do.”
The timing for broad policy strokes is important, since it will almost certainly help set the stage for the upcoming presidential debates. If Ryan and his Senate counterpart can rally behind concrete goals, they’ll be framing the conversation for the entire field. A conversation, we hope, includes the heart and soul of conservatism. Like Ryan, we think the tax code could stand a significant overhaul. Ending the death tax and marriage penalties has long been a goal of FRC’s, along with a strengthening the child tax credit.
And while the House did an admirable job passing pro-life measures like No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, we still need the Senate to vote. Heading into 2016, other big-ticket life issues are still on the table in both chambers, including the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act and Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which take aim at the idea that the government can strong-arm Americans into paying for or participating in acts that violate their beliefs. That means defusing the bombs of ObamaCare’s mandates and giving everyday citizens the right to sue.
Of course, one of the best ways to tackle America’s pro-life priorities is by Congress doing its job and passing appropriations bills through regular order. Instead of these last-minute dashes to fund the government, it’s time to get back to the business of governing through individual spending bills — not bloated packages full of hidden agendas. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out, funding the government as the founders intended hasn’t happened in two decades. And it remains one of the biggest reasons Congress is overspending. The process was designed so that members could openly debate issues like Planned Parenthood funding — instead of leaving it all to an eleventh-hour game of government chicken.
Meanwhile, Americans everywhere are still hoping that Congress will help end the attacks on people like Aaron and Melissa Klein, Craig James, Kelvin Cochran, Chaplain Wes Modder, Blain Adamson, Kim Davis, and other Americans who’ve been punished for believing that marriage is the union of a man and woman. The First Amendment Defense Act, which would stop the government from taking retaliatory action against anyone with natural marriage views, should be a political no-brainer. On so many of these issues, conservatives finally have the reinforcements they need to make real changes in this country. Let’s hope they have the leadership too.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.