- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Rep. Madison Cawthorn is offering a conservative alternative to the Democrats’ Green New Deal, tackling environmental issues, health care and economic challenges as an election-year roadmap for an “America First” agenda.

Mr. Cawthorn, 26, unveiled his package, dubbed “The New Contract With America,” on Tuesday, in hopes of providing a framework of where the GOP stands on key issues ahead of the November midterms.

The North Carolina Republican said the proposals can stand as a test for GOP candidates to show voters how closely they align with an “America First” agenda.

“There’s so many of these people starting to say ‘I’m an America First Republican,’ but unfortunately, it’s easy for the electorate to get manipulated by that because the doctrine has not necessarily been written down,” Mr. Cawthorn said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Mr. Cawthorn’s bill would tackle a variety of conservative issues.

Among his proposals, the lawmaker wants to create a commission that would reduce government spending by 2031, incentivize domestic manufacturing, establish English as the official language of the United States, and impose term limits on members of Congress and federal career employees.

Mr. Cawthorn’s proposal is based on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 1994 plan dubbed the “Contract with America,” which helped unify Republicans around a central message that led to a GOP sweep in the midterms that year.

Mr. Cawthorn particularly has zeroed in on his push to reform health care, touching on his own personal experience of dealing with medical debt after a car crash left him paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 18.

The lawmaker said dealing with the U.S. health care system firsthand and coming out of the hospital with millions of dollars in medical debt helped shape his perspective on the need to lower health care costs.

Mr. Cawthorn’s proposals to reform health care include expanding health savings accounts, fostering more competition among health care providers, offering medical choice for veterans, and expanding telemedicine services.

“There’s very few people who’ve been on the traumatic side of our health care system,” Mr. Cawthorn said. “I got to experience our health care system in a way that I never want to do again, but it gave me a lot of really unique aspects and experiences of policies in ways that we can change that I think would really be beneficial.”

Mr. Cawthorn said he is confident he would get the backing of Republican leadership, even if Democrats aren’t sold on his plan.

The lawmaker said there could be some room for bipartisanship, however, if portions of his proposal eventually are divided up. 

“I don’t expect moderate Democrats to sign on to this bill because it’s just about the American worker, the American family and people that they’ve forgotten,” Mr. Cawthorn said. “I do accept some of them to probably vote for some of the individual legislation pieces that will come out of this.”

His proposal comes ahead of what’s expected to be a bullish year for Republicans, who need to net just five seats to retake control of the House.

Mr. Cawthorn himself is facing several GOP primary challengers and a lawsuit from a liberal group claiming he was involved in inciting an insurrection during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

Since the filing in January, Mr. Cawthorn has pursued his own lawsuit against the North Carolina Elections Board.

The lawmaker is currently the youngest member of Congress, serving in the seat vacated by former Rep. and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in 2020.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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