With a smashing win Tuesday night that significantly enhanced their ranks, House Republicans are expected to pursue legislation in the next Congress that will attract Democratic votes as well.
Although several races for the House were still undecided as of early Wednesday, Republicans — at 234 seats before the voting — appeared well on their way to passing the 242 seats they won in the banner year of 2010 and matching or even passing the 246 they won when voters turned on Democratic President Harry Truman in 1946.
Republicans made inroads by taking out Democratic incumbents in such unlikely states as New York and California and picking up seats relinquished by retiring centrist Democrats such as Mike McIntire in North Carolina and Jim Matheson in Utah.
Also significant was the succession to retiring center-right GOP seats by younger and more aggressive conservatives. In Alabama, for example, Gary Palmer, head of a conservative foundation and a tea party favorite, will succeed 22-year "establishment" GOP Rep. Spencer Bacchus in the 6th District (Birmingham).
Another tea party favorite and swashbuckling conservative, Baptist minister Mark Walker, will succeed 30-year GOP Rep. Howard Coble in North Carolina's 6th District.
"Even though they don't need the Democratic votes in the House, Republicans will start off by passing measures that will have bipartisan support," former Rep. Bob Walker, a Pennsylvania Republican, veteran congressional insider and past chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, told Newsmax, "Doing this will set the tone for what they plan to accomplish later."
Walker and other House watchers said passage of legislation to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, which the administration has long procrastinated on, was one of the likely first proposals the next House would deal with.
In addition, while House GOP lawmakers fully realize that any repeal of Obamacare that made it to the Senate and then to the president's desk would be vetoed, most do not feel that way about portions of the controversial healthcare measure.
For example, the House resoundingly (261-157) passed in November a bill sponsored by House Energy Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, to permit insurance companies to offer individual plans on the market instead of forcing policyholders into health exchanges.
The Upton amendment, essentially making good on the president's own reassurance that "if you like your policy, you can keep it," sailed through the House with every Republican vote as well as those of 39 Democrats. The next House is almost certain to take up the bill again next year, along with the repeal of the tax on medical devices.
"These are the kinds of bills that can not only attract support across the House aisle, but possibly override a presidential veto," said Walker.
Another area in which Republicans hope to woo Democrats is "government reform." Two weeks ago, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, A California Republican, sent a 1,410-word memorandum to his GOP colleagues calling on them to suggest ways in which House committees can enact new regulatory reform.
"As you know, we have passed a number of government-wide reforms to the regulatory process, such as increasing public input in the regulatory process, requiring agencies to adopt the least costly proposal, and requiring regulators to limit the impact of regulations on small businesses," wrote McCarthy.
"Unfortunately, these bills have not advanced in the Senate. Yet there is no reason we cannot work toward implementing these reforms on an agency-by-agency or program-by-program basis."
McCarthy's agenda is likely to be approached in tandem with Republicans calling for reform of entitlements as the only way to deal with the deficit. A key player on this issue is sure to be the near-certain next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and a longtime advocate of putting all aspects of Medicare on the table — including its status as an entitlement — to keep it solvent.
On more controversial measures such as immigration, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, A Virginia Republican, made it clear to Newsmax last year that the comprehensive immigration package passed by the Senate and supported by the White House was dead in the House. At best, Goodlatte signaled, the House would pass border security and possibly a few select parts of reforming immigration, but nothing further.
Traditional conservative skepticism about international organizations is almost a cinch to re-emerge in the next House. Last year, a proposal to scrap the Ex-Im Bank that was vigorously opposed by Wall Street but backed by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, nearly made it to the House floor for a vote. This proposal is not likely to fade away in the same Congress.
House Republicans also seem almost sure to again focus on the International Monetary Fund. In the last two IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington, D,C, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde voiced her exasperation with the U.S. Congress for not ratifying changes agreed to by President Barack Obama that would enhance the clout of developing countries and reduce that of the U.S. in the IMF
Despite Lagarde's vow to "keep pushing and pushing on this" with Congress, Republicans in the House are going in the opposite direction.
Many want to resurrect the 2011 measure of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, to rescind the extra $100 billion Congress voted the IMF above its regular appropriations when Democrats held a majority. Earlier this year, Rep. Jimmy Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, told Newsmax he was "seriously thinking" of reintroducing the $100 billion rescission.
So, while there will be major conservative advances coming from the next GOP-ruled House, there will also be bipartisan measures.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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