- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

House Republicans yesterday welcomed the so-called “Conservative Blueprint of Success” laid out by Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but members said they looking forward to more specifics on his plan.

Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, presented his vision for the party’s future to colleagues in a closed-door meeting. The plan includes securing the country by winning the war on terror, doubling the size of the economy and strengthening the family.

Rep. Tom Feeney, Florida Republican, likened the speech to one that could have been given by then presidential candidates Ronald Reagan in 1980 or George W. Bush in 2000.

“Tom did a great job of laying out a conservative blueprint of success, not just in the short run, but in the long run as well,” Mr. Feeney said.

He added that the Republican leader touched on issues such as judicial activism, the tax burden and security — “issues Republicans can get excited about” and that can unite the party as well as the American people.

“It was very invigorating,” said Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican.

“I took it as a very welcomed focus on the future,” said Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, who added that it was “a very broad set of goals,” and members expect that details will be forthcoming.

Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, said “it wasn’t a rah-rah speech” aimed at the election. He said it was “more about the challenge and business of governing” 10 years into a Republican majority.

However, some members weren’t thrilled with the speech.

“It was vague; there wasn’t much there,” said one Republican, who asked to remain anonymous.

The member said that while Mr. DeLay pointed out the House’s role as the conservative standard-bearer, “in my view that has slipped” and the leader didn’t address that concern.

Many conservatives were bitterly disappointed that House leadership and President Bush pushed through Congress a large, new Medicare prescription drug program last year that is estimated by the administration to cost $534 billion over the next decade.

Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, kept that in the back of his mind as he heard Mr. DeLay’s plan.

“I agreed with him,” Mr. Jones said of the speech, particularly noting the focus on the importance of a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. “The problem is, conservatives were very unhappy with the passage of the Medicare bill last year.”

Mr. Jones said he and other Republicans came to Congress in the 1990s to reduce the size of government, but that hasn’t happened. He also said Mr. DeLay didn’t really address that matter, other than talking about the need to permanently extend tax cuts.

Nonetheless, some members said Mr. DeLay’s plan didn’t deviate from Mr. Bush’s goals.

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