Fresh out of an historic victory in which Republicans swept control of both the House and Senate, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they are focused on the needs of the middle class, and plan to make jobs and the economy their first priority.
In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal
, the leaders set out a detailed legislative agenda, mentioning first a renewed commitment to repeal Obamacare.
"Americans have entrusted Republicans with control of both the House and Senate. We are humbled by this opportunity to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks," they wrote.
They noted that as a "sensible and obvious first step," they plan to advance many of the bills that were passed in the GOP-controlled House that had never been on the table for consideration when Democrats controlled the Senate.
"For years, the House did its job and produced a steady stream of bills that would remove barriers to job creation and lower energy costs for families. Many passed with bipartisan support—only to gather dust in a Democratic-controlled Senate that kept them from ever reaching the president’s desk. Senate Republicans also offered legislation that was denied consideration despite bipartisan support and benefits for American families and jobs," they said.
"These bills provide an obvious and potentially bipartisan starting point for the new Congress — and, for President Obama, a chance to begin the final years of his presidency by taking some steps toward a stronger economy."
One bill they plan to advance would authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which they said would lower energy costs for families and create jobs.
The Hire More Heroes Act, which encourages businesses to hire veterans, is another measure that will move forward, as will a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour work week for full-time employment.
They said they will also consider legislation to support the creation of charter schools across the country.
"Enacting such measures early in the new session will signal that the logjam in Washington has been broken, and help to establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build upon," they wrote.
"At a time of growing anxiety for the American people, with household incomes stubbornly flat and the nation facing rising threats on multiple fronts, this is vital work."
Boehner and McConnell also enumerated a list of the "most pressing challenges facing the country," which they said they plan to address head-on during the 114th Congress.
Among these challenges: a complex tax code, skyrocketing health costs, a growing terrorist threat, an underperforming education system, excessive regulation, antiquated government bureaucracy, and the crippling national debt.
"January will bring the opportunity to begin anew. Republicans will return the focus to the issues at the top of your priority list. Your concerns will be our concerns. That's our pledge.
"The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years. As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong," they concluded.
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