Opinion: Immigration, spending key to GOP agenda in Congress

While Republicans must still decide who should be the next Speaker of the House, the GOP legislative agenda in Congress is fairly clear, emphasizing tougher measures against illegal immigration, along with calls for spending restraint.

Immigration could be the biggest flashpoint as Republicans have vowed to hold hearings at the border to highlight the surge in migrants — as well as the threat of fentanyl and other illegal drugs coming in from Mexico.

“Undoubtedly, there is a crisis at our Southern Border,” U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, wrote in a recent letter to President Biden.

Republicans have repeatedly called for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign — with Clyde and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, already signing onto an impeachment resolution against the DHS chief.

“Our southern border is being invaded so badly,” Greene said.

The GOP’s legislative response is likely to include money to resume the construction of a border wall, along with more agents for the Border Patrol.

“This invasion would not be happening if our federal government took border security seriously,” argued U.S. Rep.-Elect Mike Collins, who will take his seat on Jan. 3.

Other parts of the House GOP agenda — known as the ‘Commitment to America’ — remain a bit cloudy. Repealing ‘Obamacare’ used to be a main policy goal for Republicans — but not anymore.

Instead, Republicans are back to buzz phrases about improving the ‘doctor-patient relationship,’ ‘expanding access to patient-centered technologies,’ and ‘affordability solutions.’

Republicans haven’t lost their focus on the budget, especially with the federal debt now over $31 trillion.

“Congress must rein in the spending,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler.

While some lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, are certain to press for a balanced budget plan, GOP budget-cutting efforts may get off to a slow start.

Originally, House Republicans talked about voting on the first day of the new session to repeal the $80 billion authorized by Democrats for new workers at the IRS.

That echoed the busy first day in 1995 on the ‘Contract With America’ with Georgia’s Newt Gingrich at the helm.

But this time, the GOP legislative plans for Jan. 3 have been sidelined because of the internal fight over who should be Speaker.

Committee chairs remain unfilled; GOP lawmakers don’t have committee assignments, new rules are on hold, and there’s little policy being discussed.

Instead, it’s been all about the ethics problems of a new Republican from New York and continued questions about Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be Speaker.

The GOP agenda will certainly survive those two soap operas, but it’s a somewhat inauspicious start to the new majority for U.S. House Republicans.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com