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GOP Main Street group unveils agenda for candidates

Bost says goal can’t be just blocking Biden: ‘We have to govern’

“I’m a conservative, but I watched, I watched last time people pursuing ‘No,’” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill.
“I’m a conservative, but I watched, I watched last time people pursuing ‘No,’” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The centrist-leaning Republican Main Street Partnership is unveiling a policy agenda Tuesday that the group’s leaders say can provide a starting point for working with President Joe Biden and Democrats if the GOP takes control of the House, and possibly the Senate, in November. 

The effort is designed to give candidates a message to sell on the campaign trail. It also aims to build public support for what to expect and to avoid what Rep. Mike Bost , R-Ill., said were problems that developed after Republicans took the House majority during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

“I’m a conservative, but I watched, I watched last time people pursuing ‘No,’” Bost said, referring to colleagues whose goal was to block Obama’s agenda and even to thwart their own House speaker, such as John A. Boehner of Ohio. “We can’t pursue ‘No.’ We’ve got to govern.”

The agenda includes five broad points — on energy independence; filling job vacancies; easing supply chain disruptions; shoring up funding for public safety and policing; and “standing for freedom” — according to GOP lawmakers involved with the group. 

Republican Main Street Partnership’s president, Sarah Chamberlain, said the policy agenda has been extensively poll tested and aims to give GOP candidates “practical policy platforms” to discuss on the trail and to respond to voters’ desire to see lawmakers  accomplish things in Washington.  

Bost, a member of the group, acknowledged that even getting consensus among members of their own party wouldn’t be easy, let alone convincing Biden and congressional Democrats to sign on. But, he said, trying to increase the number of lawmakers involved in the Main Street Partnership effort in the November midterms was aimed at building support for the agenda. Main Street now has about 60 members of Congress and has sought to overhaul itself over the past year, setting high fundraising goals for its super PAC for this year’s elections.

The group has endorsed candidates who could use the agenda as talking points on the campaign trail, include those in solid GOP races, such as Wesley Hunt in Texas’ new 38th District, as well as those running in more competitive races, including Tom Kean Jr. in New Jersey’s 7th District; Lori Chavez-DeRemer in Oregon’s 5th District; Jen Kiggans in Virginia’s 2nd District; and Allan Fung in Rhode Island’s 2nd District. 

The Main Street Partnership said it had tested the agenda by polling in four swing districts — in California, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania — and found that 72 percent of respondents said the country was headed in the wrong direction and 79 percent disapproved of Congress. 

“It’s critical that we immediately permit thousands of miles of pipelines across the country and invest in additional refining capacity, which is exactly what RMSP’s agenda will accomplish,” Hunt said via email.

The agenda includes an outline for expanding energy sources in the United States; relaxing some government regulations as a way to ease supply chain disruptions; and increasing funding for police. 

“It’s our job to not only have these items in place to move forward but also to sell them to the American people so that enough of the American people, my hope is, will convince the administration that, yes, you need to go with this,” Bost said.   

Rep. Pete Stauber, a Minnesota Republican involved in the group, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that lawmakers and the Biden administration could find common ground to move Main Street’s policy agenda in the next Congress.

“Everything that is on our priorities, we can move forward,” Stauber said. “I’m confident because it’s the kitchen table issues. I’m confident that on everything that we put forward that we can work with our Democratic colleagues, because they’re hearing the same things.”

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