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Memo Plants Seeds for GOP’s New Immigration Strategy

McCarthy, R-Calif., participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for upcoming session of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Copyright © 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.
McCarthy hints at a new GOP line of attack on the president’s immigration policies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent House Republicans a legislative memo Thursday, laying out a February agenda of repealing Obamacare, taking on unfunded mandates, and permanently providing a tax deduction for charitable giving.

But more than messaging, McCarthy may have also begun planting the seed that Republicans might need a different vehicle to fight President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration other than the Department of Homeland Security funding bill.

“We hope that the Senate will send the House-passed Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill to the President,” McCarthy writes near the end of the 1,566-word memo. “In the event the Senate passes something different than the House-passed bill, we will be discussing with the Conference the best way to continue to challenge the President’s unconstitutional amnesty.”

What that best way would be is not mentioned. But Republican leadership has started to mention another lawsuit against the president could be in the cards. Additional legislation might also be another avenue, though it won’t have the same force as the DHS funding bill, which is a must-pass measure if Congress wants to fund the agency past Feb. 27.

Either way, McCarthy is starting the campaign early to soften the blow with voters. “It is incumbent upon every Member to engage with our constituents back home on these issues and drive home the message that Republicans are focused on freedom, opportunity, and accountability and that we are continuing to offer positive solutions to help the middle class,” he said, seeming to sum up the entirety of the legislative memo.

In honor of the Super Bowl, McCarthy posed a trivia question: “Which 4 universities sport both a Super Bowl-winning QB and a U.S. President?” he asks. Scroll down to the very bottom of this post for the answer, complete with the presidents and quarterbacks.

The full memo is below:


TO: House Republicans
FROM: Kevin McCarthy
DATE: January 29, 2015
SUBJECT: February Agenda

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
― Thomas Jefferson

In keeping with our pledge to Grow America’s Economy Instead of Washington’s Economy, I want to take a moment to recall what we have accomplished in just four short weeks.

We have passed 27 different pieces of legislation in 13 legislative days, including:

Approving the Keystone pipeline (with the support of 28 Democrats)*

Passing the Hire More Heroes Act to make it easier for small businesses to hire veterans without running afoul of Obamacare (passed unanimously and is currently being marked up by the Senate Finance Committee)

Reauthorizing TRIA and correcting a Dodd-Frank regulation that harmed manufacturers, farmers, and Main Street businesses (signed into law on January 12)

Restoring the 40-hour workweek and protecting the paychecks of millions of Americans (supported by a dozen Democrats)*

Prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortions*

Ensuring that Obamacare mandates don’t destroy volunteer fire departments (passed unanimously)
Restoring common sense to financial regulations to help small businesses access capital and grow (with the support of 29 Democrats)*

Expediting the licensing of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports both to create jobs and strengthen our national security (with the support of 41 Democrats)

Streamlining the process for building natural gas pipelines so we can lower energy costs for millions of American families (with the support of 14 Democrats)*

Blocking funds to implement the President’s unconstitutional amnesty*

Reforming the regulatory process to require agencies to seek public input and adopt the least costly regulations*

12 separate bills to combat human trafficking, protect the most vulnerable among us, especially children, and help survivors recover

As noted by USA Today this week, the White House has set its own record, issuing the most veto threats ever in the first month of a new Congress (including all those above with an asterisk). The Obama Administration spends more time drafting veto threats – often on bipartisan legislation – than on identifying common ground.

This month, the new Republican Senate also set a record of sorts. The Senate has voted on more than twice as many amendments this month than they voted on the entire prior year under former Senate Majority Leader Reid!

We also shouldn’t forget that on opening day, we took steps never before taken by a Congress. We reformed our rules so that for the first time, we can take into account the real-world impacts of changes in the tax code and spending. Ensuring an honest accounting of the economic and fiscal impact of legislation is a first step in proceeding with pro-growth tax reform. We also changed our rules to protect the Social Security retirement system. Under our new rules, it is no longer permissible — as some Democrats desire — to simply rob the Social Security retirement trust fund to deal with the insolvency of the disability trust fund.

We are also exposing the Administration’s mismanagement of foreign policy. The Foreign Affairs Committee has begun holding hearings on Administration policy, with a particular focus on the growing threats posed by radical Islamist terrorism, as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its efforts to support terrorism. The Speaker has scheduled a joint session to welcome the Prime Minister of Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, at a time of rising tensions in that critical region. The Armed Services Committee has begun a series of hearings to examine the growing threats to the United States and the Obama Administration’s underinvestment in our military that has not only hampered our ability to meet the national security challenges of tomorrow but also has limited our ability to confront today’s threats.

We did all this while organizing our committees, holding 24 hearings on topics ranging from EPA regulations to Iran sanctions, and for the first time in a decade attending a joint planning retreat with our Senate colleagues.


As we head into February, we will continue to fill in the details of the American Opportunity Agenda framework outlined at our retreat, along with relevant messaging opportunities from Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers. This includes passing bills to expand individual freedom, hold the government accountable so that we can unshackle small businesses, and promote greater opportunities for children and middle-class families.

Messaging opportunity: An Opportunity Economy – Renewing America from the Ground Up. We need to grow an opportunity economy instead of Washington, D.C.’s economy. Tomorrow’s good-paying jobs will come from the freedom to innovate from the ground up, not from top-down bureaucracies looking out for special interests.

February 2nd – 5th

It Is Time For A Change – We Don’t Have To Settle For The Way Washington Works Now

We will begin the month renewing our commitment to individual freedom and opportunity. First, we will consider H.R. 596, authored by Representative Bradley Byrne, to protect individuals from government-imposed cost increases and reduced access to care and coverage by repealing Obamacare. This legislation will also include instructions to the relevant committees to develop our patient-centered health care reforms.

Messaging opportunity: Health care decisions should be made by patients and their doctors, not by Washington, D.C. We need solutions that reduce costs, give every American more control over their health care decisions, and provide access to world-class care with 21st Century cures and treatments.

We will also hold agencies accountable for the true cost of federal mandates through H.R. 50, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act. Authored by Representative Virginia Foxx, this proposal will impose stricter requirements for how and when federal agencies must disclose the cost of federal mandates and equips both Congress and the public with tools to determine the true costs of regulations.

Finally, we will end the week with H.R. 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015, authored by Representative Steve Chabot, which requires federal agencies to consider the economic effects of regulations on small business before imposing overly burdensome mandates that prevent growth and job creation.

Messaging opportunity: Hardworking taxpayers deserve a responsive government that is efficient, effective, and accountable to them. Washington needs to work for the people, not against them. Without government nudging or approval, citizens should have the freedom, choice, and control to pursue their own opportunity and live as they please.

February 10th – 13th

Planting The Seeds Of Growth In Our Local Economies

We will consider language to update and make permanent provisions of the tax code related to charitable giving. This includes provisions related to tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes, encouraging donation of real property for conservation, and enhanced deductions for the contributions of food inventory.

We will also make permanent the increased expensing benefits for small businesses (Section 179).

Messaging opportunity: To build a healthy, opportunity economy, our tax code must protect hardworking taxpayers. It should be fair, simple, and straight-forward, so that every American can find a real opportunity to get ahead. We don’t need higher taxes. We need a more efficient, effective tax system.

February 24th – 27th

Equal Opportunity In Education For All Children

We will end the month with a week dedicated to creating opportunities for children to succeed. During this week, the House will consider H.R. 529, authored by Representative Lynn Jenkins to unequivocally oppose any plan to tax 529s, which is an outright assault on families trying to save for their children’s education. This bill will also expand the allowable uses of 529s, including for the purchase of a computer.

The House will finish February by considering elementary and secondary education reform that would repeal the one-size-fits-all approach and instead give control and flexibility to states and local school districts.

We will stop the President from coercing states to adopt Common Core standards and we will consider proposals to replicate high-performing charter schools. At the start of the last school year, more than a million children were on waiting lists for admission to charter schools. No child should be trapped in a failing school, so next month we will act.

Messaging opportunity: Every child should have an equal opportunity to get a great education. Great schools and great teachers open doors of opportunity for every student. We should encourage high-tech, exceptional ways of learning in every school for every student; give parents the right to send their kids to the schools of their choice; and offer students access to affordable college educations.

Finally, we hope that the Senate will send the House-passed Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill to the President. In the event the Senate passes something different than the House-passed bill, we will be discussing with the Conference the best way to continue to challenge the President’s unconstitutional amnesty.

It is incumbent upon every Member to engage with our constituents back home on these issues and drive home the message that Republicans are focused on freedom, opportunity, and accountability and that we are continuing to offer positive solutions to help the middle class.

Conference will be providing additional messaging tools that we should all be using to build up support for these measures prior to House consideration, as well as after passage.

Finally, in honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, let’s see who can be the first to correctly answer this month’s trivia question: Which 4 universities sport both a Super Bowl-winning QB and a U.S. President?

The answer to the trivia question is:

— Stanford University, with alumni John Elway and Jim Plunkett, both of whom have two Super Bowl rings, in addition to President Herbert Hoover.

— University of Michigan, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is competing for his fourth Super Bowl victory on Sunday, and fellow graduate with President Gerald Ford.

— The U.S. Naval Academy, with graduates Roger Staubach, who won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, and Jimmy Carter, who was elected president in 1976.

— Miami University of Ohio, the wild card in the bunch, counts President Benjamin Harrison and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as graduates.


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