House GOP Leaves Retreat With a Plan

Republicans don’t have a firm policy agenda yet, but Paul Ryan vows that they will by the time the party has a presidential nominee.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Jan. 15, 2016, 2:15 p.m.

BAL­TIMORE—After three days of dis­cus­sions at a wa­ter­front re­treat here, House Re­pub­lic­ans an­nounced the broad out­lines of an elec­tion-year agenda, one they hope can hand their pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee—who­ever that may be—a win­ning mes­sage.

Speak­er Paul Ry­an told re­port­ers just be­fore leav­ing the city that he wants the House to craft le­gis­la­tion that can dif­fer­en­ti­ate the GOP from Demo­crats along five policy areas: Na­tion­al se­cur­ity, jobs and eco­nom­ic growth, health care, poverty and op­por­tun­ity, and restor­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al bal­ance of powers.

“I ex­pect we will have a com­plete agenda by the time we have a nom­in­ee,” Ry­an said. “Be­lieve you me: The people of this coun­try will know who we are and what we stand for when this is done, and they will be giv­en a choice in 2016, so that when they go to the polls in 2016, when they vote for Re­pub­lic­ans, they will know what they are vot­ing for.”

With few spe­cif­ics, however, the task now falls to com­mit­tee chair­men and mem­bers to fill in the blanks. Ry­an said he does not want to hand down policy from his lead­er­ship team and will in­stead con­vene sev­er­al task forces pop­u­lated by mem­bers from com­mit­tees of jur­is­dic­tion to dis­cuss each policy area and come up with ideas.

Still, the ques­tion re­mains about how will­ing the Sen­ate, and in­deed the yet-un­chosen GOP nom­in­ee, will be to take up the House agenda. Bey­ond that, the party will have work to do to sell their agenda to the pub­lic. With that in mind, one mem­ber sug­ges­ted in a private ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion of the House GOP that the party have an­oth­er re­treat once the agenda is set to talk about how to mes­sage it.

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