In the 2024 cycle, House Republicans struggle to know what to say

It was the challenge heard around Capitol Hill. As members of Congress prepared to leave Capitol Hill for their Thanksgiving break last fall, Republican Rep. Chip Roy delivered impassioned remarks on the House floor about his party’s legislative efforts.

“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing — one! — that I can go campaign on and say we did,” the Texan said. “Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me, one meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done.”

No one rushed to respond to his challenge.

More than six months later, as GOP lawmakers look for ways to maintain their majority in the House, Roy’s question remains relevant — because his party still doesn’t know what to say in defense of its recent efforts. Punchbowl News reported:

Ask House Republicans what they are running on this year. They all say different things. The House GOP is struggling to figure out what — if anything — to tout this November. The Republican Conference remains plagued by the bitter infighting and deep divisions that have overshadowed everything they’ve done during this Congress.

Ahead of the 2022 elections, House Republicans — in the minority at the time, but optimistic about their chances — eagerly promoted what they labeled their “Commitment to America” pledge. The idea was to assure the electorate that GOP officials not only wanted to be in the majority, they also had concrete ideas about what they’d do if voters returned them to power.

A closer look made clear that the “Commitment to America” was a bit of joke. As regular readers might recall, the agenda — to the extent that one could call it that — was a one-page memo of vague principles and platitudes. A meaningful governing blueprint it was not.

But two years later, House Republicans aren’t even clearing this low bar. When Punchbowl News asked “roughly two dozen House GOP lawmakers about how they plan to convince voters to let them hold on to the majority,” they had strikingly little to say.

It’s tough to blame them. If I were a House Republican tasked with coming up with a list of accomplishments, I wouldn’t know what to say, either. We are, after all, talking about the 118th Congress — which has been credibly described by some as the worst Congress ever.

As we recently discussed, resignations have reached a generational high. Legislative progress has slowed to a pace unseen in nearly a century. Lawmakers have struggled mightily to complete basic tasks. One House speaker has already been ousted — a development without precedent in American history — and another only survived after Democrats came to his rescue.

Referring to the GOP-led House, a recent Punchbowl News report concluded, “This is the most chaotic, inefficient and ineffective majority we’ve seen in decades covering Congress.”

Americans have seen a needlessly shambolic process to elect a House speaker, a wildly unnecessary impeachment inquiry against a sitting president, an equally unnecessary impeachment of a sitting cabinet secretary, the expulsion of a disgraced member, and several pointless censures.

Is it any wonder why GOP members are struggling to defend their record?

In fairness, Republicans could plausibly argue that with a Democratic-led Senate and a Democratic White House, the prospect for legislative breakthroughs were severely limited. That’s true. But it’s also true that GOP House members could’ve engaged in good-faith negotiations, embraced legislative compromises, and racked up some victories they could take to voters in the fall.

They didn’t want to. The result is a wasted governing opportunity and a blank slate where a record is supposed to be.