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Bullish GOP hones legislative plans for 2025

House Republicans are preparing their legislative plan for 2025 with an eye toward seizing full control of power in Washington next year.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) said Wednesday he was optimistic that Republicans could not only retain control of the House but also take control of the Senate and return former President Trump to the White House for a second term.

With these three challenges in mind, Republican leaders are already developing a bold strategy to get a set of promised policy priorities, from tax cuts and deregulation to border security and deficit reduction, to President Trump’s desk as quickly as possible.

“Once he takes office, he’s going to have to be very aggressive with his agenda for the first 100 days,” Johnson said during a weekly lunch with Republican senators on Wednesday.

“The first year is crucial and we have a lot of work to do, so we can’t afford to waste a moment. [him] And his team, and ourselves, should plan accordingly.”

In his meetings with Senate Republicans, Johnson has promoted the idea of ​​using a little-known budget procedure known as reconciliation to pass major conservative legislation that is sure to be overwhelmingly opposed by Democrats in both chambers.

“You can’t put the wheel before the horse,” Johnson said, “but you have to be prepared to lead, and we’re going to be prepared to lead.”

Republican leaders have struggled throughout this Congress to unite opposing factions behind party priorities.

Johnson’s comments, which reverberated throughout the convention, signaled Republicans are eager to put an end to intraparty criticism and show voters they can implement conservative policies as early as 2025. That has hardly happened given the divided government that currently characterizes Washington.

Trump is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill on Thursday and meet separately with Republican members of the House and Senate, an early opportunity to do so.

The former president still has a strong grip on the Republican Party, despite his recent conviction on 34 felony counts related to paying hush money to porn actresses.

And Trump’s speech in Washington will highlight a key theme of this year’s Republican election strategy: that President Biden and the Democrats are “weaponizing” the Department of Justice (DOJ) to attack conservatives, and that only Trump and the Republicans have the will and ability to rein it in and create a level playing field.

Indeed, Johnson outlined a three-pronged plan this month to weaken the Justice Department’s power, promising to work to use Congress’ fiscal, oversight and legislative authority to impose new limits on the department’s authority.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said the effort would include supporting whistleblowers, imposing new restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other measures to crack down on the Justice Department.

“We’re obviously looking at the Department of Justice, we’re looking at the fact that the FBI whistleblower is alleging retaliation,” Jordan said. “So we’re looking at all of those things.”

But justice reform is just one item in a long list of policy priorities that Republicans will consider if they take control of Washington next year.

Johnson’s reconciliation plan is aimed, at least in part, at extending the massive tax cuts Republicans enacted under the Trump administration in 2017, the last time they controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. While both parties support extending tax cuts that benefit working- and middle-class taxpayers, Democratic leaders want to let corporate and upper-income tax cuts expire, making reconciliation a key part of Republican policy.

“The tax cuts are expiring and need to be made permanent. [in the] “We’re going to be reviewing the budget in the first half of the year and then we’re going to be doing a number of things to fix the problems that the Biden administration has created through the budget reconciliation process,” Johnson said.

Other Republicans have already revealed their own wish lists.

“There’s a lot we need to do in the short term for the American people, and we have to cut spending,” said Rep. Byron Donald (R-Fla.), “and doing everything we can to actually rein in spending is probably going to be the biggest job we have to do, because that’s going to determine the trajectory going forward.”

To achieve their goals, Republicans need to seize all the power in the November elections.

Republicans found themselves briefly in crisis on Tuesday in a special election in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, when Republican candidate Michael Rulli defeated Democrat Michael Krypczak by just over 9 percentage points — an extremely disappointing showing for a Republican candidate in a 28-vote district.

But Johnson is confident the GOP will succeed, with Trump leading the GOP field and Biden’s approval rating so low.

“If you look at the latest polls, everybody — just about everybody now — is predicting that Republicans will take back the Senate, expand their majority in the House and take control of the White House,” he said. “With a unified government like that comes great responsibility. I look forward to that day and solving many of our problems.”

Rank-and-file Republicans are also optimistic about their chances of victory, though some are reserving predictions with some caution.

“I support that optimism, but optimism doesn’t mean much without the work,” Donald said. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us in the campaign.”

They will also have to tame the infighting that many say has plagued the conference throughout the session and prevented it from advancing substantive policy.

In October, eight House Republicans conspired with all House Democrats to remove then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the first time in history that someone had been removed from their top leadership position. Republicans were unable to reach an agreement, and a fight ensued over McCarthy’s replacement, bringing the House to a screeching halt for nearly three weeks and preventing lawmakers from taking up any bills.

Infighting within the party has not subsided since the fight for the speakership, with some Republicans openly expressing dissatisfaction with Johnson’s leadership, which led to another failed coup attempt last month.

But at least one Republican leader is confident a three-way deal would help House Republicans ease tensions among themselves.

“The sheriff would come to town and call the president of the United States,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “That would change things.”