- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

House Republican leaders said yesterday that it is unfair for outgoing Rep. Tom DeLay to say they don’t have a vision or an agenda.

“I think he meant to say ‘Democrats’ not ‘Republicans,’ because Democrats lack an agenda,” said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.

Mr. Bonjean, responding to Mr. DeLay’s accusation yesterday in The Washington Times, said party leaders are pushing an aggressive agenda to provide economic security and homeland security.

“I was surprised to read that,” said House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce, Ohio Republican. “I think it was an emotional response. … He’s dead wrong.”

Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, made the accusation after announcing that he would resign from the House. The former majority leader, who is under indictment for money laundering, said he will resign to give the party time to find a candidate for the November election.

Last week, one of Mr. DeLay’s former aides, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection to an ongoing bribery and lobbying fraud investigation.

House Republican Conference aides yesterday provided a letter that leaders are sending party members this week outlining this year’s agenda: keeping America prosperous, ensuring affordable and accessible health care, spending taxpayer dollars wisely and strengthening national security and border security.

“In each of these areas, we have offered — and will continue to offer — a clear choice between our plan and the Democrats’ alternative,” Mrs. Pryce wrote.

“Our record speaks for itself. We’ve offered clear choices between our vision for America and the Democrats’ vision — or lack thereof.”

The letter will be sent to all House Republicans, as is typical, in the communications packets they will receive to take back to their districts for the upcoming two-week break.

The office of House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, wouldn’t respond to Mr. DeLay’s comments.

But yesterday, a vision statement was presented to House Republicans by a working group initiated by Mr. Boehner when he became leader earlier this year.

The statement reads, “We will promote the dignity and future of every individual by building a free society under a limited, accountable government that protects our liberty, security, and prosperity, for a brighter American Dream.”

House Republicans were asked to provide input on how best to carry out this vision.

Mrs. Pryce said that last year — the first session of the 109th Congress — House Republicans “worked our tails off” to approve everything from an energy bill and border protection to a bill trimming $40 billion from entitlement programs.

She said that although the second session of any Congress is typically less aggressive, House Republicans have plenty on their plates for this year as well — including, just this week alone, a budget blueprint, legislation to regulate groups that influence elections and possibly a bill to extend expiring tax cuts.

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