The GOP's ambitions in the House

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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens alongside House Republicans during a news conference on the Biden Administration's first year at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens alongside House Republicans during a news conference on the Biden Administration's first year at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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House Republicans have a speaker, policy plans, a commitment to America. And some business to get down to.

"[There] are must-pass pieces of legislation. And I don't think anybody has any sense right now how any of those things get done," Scott MacFarlane, CBS News Congressional correspondent, says.

GOP hardliners are pushing for radical change to social security and Medicare.
House leadership has some tough choices to make.

"What is the 118th Congress willing to work hard to find compromises that they can agree upon across party lines? And the answer is we don't know yet," Philip Wallach, senior fellow at AEI, says.

Today, On Point: The GOP’s ambitions in the House.


Rep. Gary Palmer, Republican representing Alabama’s 6th Congressional district, which includes parts of Birmingham and its suburbs. Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. (@USRepGaryPalmer)

Scott MacFarlane, CBS News Congressional correspondent. (@MacFarlaneNews)

Philip Wallach, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (@PhilipWallach)

Interview Highlights

What are some of the other top priorities as you see it for this Congress, this session?

Rep. Gary Palmer: "We just saw where real hourly wages for all employees are down 1.7% over the last year. And that's largely because of inflation. Even though we had a good quarter, 2.9 growth in GDP, all of the signs are pointing toward a recession. And I think we've got to really work on bringing down the cost of living for Americans. It's a combination of things. It's the excessive spending of the Biden administration in the first two years.

"It's their really harmful energy policies. Energy is a major driver of inflation because there's an energy cost of every good and service that you and I consume. And then the regulatory cost and people may not realize this, but in Biden's first year in office, he increased regulatory costs three times more than what Obama did in his first year in office, over $200 billion. So just that alone adds about $1,500, a little over $1,500 per household in regulatory cost."

On intra-party disagreements

Rep. Gary Palmer: "This Republican conference, this Republican majority, is different from anything anyone seen in decades. This is not a top-down run organization. We're getting input from everybody, and we want that input. I was talking to one of the freshman members this morning about how impressed I am with the intellectual ability of these freshmen members, the expertise and the experience that they're bringing to the table. And I think anyone who's in management wants to take advantage of the assets that they've been given. And we've been given a lot of assets and we're going to take advantage of them. So it won't be a top-down management style."

On Republicans figuring out how to work together

Scott MacFarlane: "They're getting started and excuse any new party in power for some bumps in the road in the first few days because they're organizing their committees, they're still figuring out who sits where, who's going to be on which panel. There's going to be some growing pains. I think it's going to be helpful to think of two separate buckets of legislation. One big bucket of things that the Republicans would like to pass, but likely have little prospect of passing, but things that maybe they'll give a fighting chance to. Then there's this other small bucket.

"But this small bucket [has] the valuable stuff in it. This is the bucket of things that must pass. You have to get done. Or government fails. Think about the debt ceiling. Government spending. You have to pass appropriations bills, or the federal government shuts down. They turn off the lights and send home federal workers and close federal facilities. The FISA bill, they have to each year authorize intelligence and surveillance. And they have to pass a farm bill this year, and they have to authorize the military. How do those things get done? I think Philip is spot on.

"There's likely going to be an inevitability, I should say that there's going to be an inevitability here, that some coalition, a unique, politically complex coalition of Democrats and Republicans, will have to get together to pass these things. But the tricky part, Kimberly, is how do you get these bipartisan bills or these bipartisan efforts on the floor? Can Kevin McCarthy do that without either losing his speakership or losing his followers in his conference?"

Do you think that there is a chance that quiet bipartisanship can happen behind the scenes?

Scott MacFarlane: "Great bottom line question for what the next six months in America is going to bring, because at this politically toxic moment, there's no indication of that. But there's also no way around it, that has to happen. There are some Republicans who tried to make clear that we're on a trajectory where we need bipartisanship to get the big things done, and we could do it sooner or we can do it later. But all of this has got to play itself out politically.

"And you've got a group of House Republicans who do not want to extend bipartisan ideas out there because, first of all, it's politically tricky for them with their constituents and the possibility of a Republican primary challenger if they do so. But also, they have this ongoing latent frustration of the past few years watching Democrats pass things singularly big things without Republican votes, including the debt ceiling the last couple of times. And they have this sense that they should and need to do the same. Still a lot of bad blood from that January 6th committee. Other things, too. Kimberly, they've got to get ironed out before they can really be bipartisan."

This program aired on January 27, 2023.


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Stefano Kotsonis Senior Producer, On Point
Stefano Kotsonis is a senior producer for WBUR's On Point.


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Kimberly Atkins Stohr Guest Host, On Point
Kimberly Atkins is a senior opinion writer and columnist for Boston Globe Opinion. She's also a frequent guest host for On Point. She formerly was a senior news correspondent for WBUR.



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