House Republicans are hoping history repeats itself. It may well happen, but not necessarily in the long run.

In the middle-class suburbs of Pittsburgh, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy last week laid out the party’s platform for the November election, essentially a general set of promises called the “Commitment to America.”

He pledges to tackle inflation by reining in “wasteful government spending”, increasing “take-home pay” and acting to “move supply chains away from China”. He promises to fight illegal immigration by acting to “fully fund effective border security strategies” and “end catch-and-release loopholes.”

The exercise echoes the much more visible “Contract with America” ​​of 1994, a platform promising to take action on proposals such as the balanced budget amendment and term limits in Congress that Republicans led by Newt Gingrich used in a successful campaign that put an end to 40 years of Democratic House control.

However, once in power, the Republican Party found that implementing features is much more difficult than defending them. Although the Republican House passed most of the promised measures, virtually none became law due to opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate or President Bill Clinton’s veto.

That Republican Congress cooperated with Clinton in some areas, passing Social Security reform in 1996 and a major tax cut/balanced budget bill in 1997. But the House also spent a lot of time investigating the Clinton administration, culminating in the 1998 impeachment inquiry that created an anti- GOP political backlash that year.

House Republicans could face similar challenges next year if they manage to seize control, as current polling suggests. Indeed, the agenda that McCarthy presented did far more to obscure their true intentions than to illuminate them.

For example, the only reference to abortion is a pledge to “protect the lives of the unborn and their mothers” at a time when many Republicans in Congress are pushing for a nationwide ban on abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 1973. the decision to legalize the procedure.

Also, even before the GOP leader delivered a statement carefully crafted to secure support from Republicans of all stripes, some of his more assertive colleagues — and future colleagues — were touting a much more aggressive agenda.

“Our agenda for the first two years is simple: impeachment, obstruction and control,” Republican congressional candidate Joe Kent said at a town hall in Amboy, Washington, according to The New York Times.

Kentucky Republican Representative James Comer, as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, announced that his three priorities would be the finances of the Biden family, first and foremost President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter; the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of Dr. Anthony Fauci; and problems of administration on the southern border.

Representative Nancy Mays of South Carolina predicted on NBC’s Meet the Press that Republicans would put “a lot of pressure” to impeach Biden. Another likely target: Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security.

It’s up to McCarthy to sanction those efforts — or to try to contain them. But he could face the same difficulties with the right wing of the party as the last two Republican speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, especially if the GOP only has a slim majority.

At the recent GOP conference, the House Freedom Caucus made it clear it would not support McCarthy’s nomination as speaker until he agreed to a package of rule changes that would require the House to consider only bills supported by a majority of Republicans.

Enacting that requirement, which House Republicans have long held in practice, could prevent the GOP majority from even considering some appropriations bills that fund the government.

Meanwhile, McCarthy, while clarifying Friday’s commitment to “curb government abuse of power,” said the first GOP bill would be to “repeal 87,000 IRS agents.” He mistakenly cited a provision of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act that would create 87,000 new jobs at the Internal Revenue Service to strengthen oversight, primarily for corporations and high-income taxpayers.

While the Republican Party has only to satisfy its own troops to investigate the Biden administration, passing sweeping legislation is more difficult. As Gingrich discovered during his brief but stormy speech, passage by the House does not necessarily guarantee approval by the Senate, even if Republicans regain the majority.

Most measures in the Senate still need 60 votes to pass. Whichever party wins control will likely have a bare majority, nowhere near 60, limiting the prospect of partisan GOP measures.

Meanwhile, Biden made it clear in his response to a statement from the House GOP that he would use his veto power to protect his legislative achievements. That’s what Clinton did, turning GOP opposition to her advantage when her intransigence forced the federal government to shut down.

The House GOP is trying to disguise its advocacy of controversial measures with common goals that are widely supported. But his real agenda may be tougher and less politically palatable than the platitudes in his commitment to America.

Contact Carl P. Loibsdorf, former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, at [email protected] His column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of The Lima News or AIM Media, the newspaper’s owner.