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Democrats launch effort to counter conservatives’ sweeping ‘Project 2025’


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by Mike Lillis, The Hill.com, June 11, 2024

House Democrats this week are launching a concerted campaign to hit back at Project 2025, a sweeping conservative effort to advance right-wing policies and expand the powers of the presidency in the event that voters return Donald Trump to the White House for a second term. 

The Democrats are alarmed by both the scope of Project 2025, which touches on virtually every facet of American life, and the policy changes it proposes, including the elimination of certain federal agencies, the overhaul of others and the stocking of all departments with loyalists to conservative causes. 

The critics say the conservative playbook, originating from the Heritage Foundation, poses a threat to the very workings of government and democracy that have presided in Washington since the nation’s founding, demanding an orchestrated counter-strategy to ensure it never gets off the ground. They’re creating a new task force with that goal in mind. 

“Americans don’t understand just how far down the road to a dystopic, right-wing theocracy we are right now,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who is spearheading the effort. “And that, for me at least, is the priority: Making sure people know it, and making sure we’re ready to confront it.”

The idea was conceived, Huffman said, after members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) were briefed by several liberal advocacy groups on the specifics of Project 2025. Those groups, including Accountable US, the Center for American Progress and the Brennan Center for Justice, will coordinate with the Democratic task force to get their message out heading into November’s elections.

“It just occurred to me that this stuff is so significant and urgent that we really need to do more to spotlight it, certainly for the American people in the months ahead, but also for Congress,” Huffman said. “Because in the unthinkable event that Trump wins the presidency, this stuff is going to move very quickly. And if we’re reacting to it, we’re losing.”

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Launched two years ago by the Heritage Foundation, Project 2025 aims to disassemble the federal government and replace it with a smaller, more nimble version — stocked with right-wing officials at every level who would work to advance the agenda of the next conservative president, be it Trump or someone else. The project arose as part of the conservative outcry that “deep state” bureaucrats across federal agencies had acted to stymie Trump’s policy agenda in his first term, including his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

The project seeks to eradicate the so-called administrative state and fill the newly empty spots with conservative loyalists. It features four “pillars,” laying out a right-wing policy roadmap for the next conservative president to follow; providing a political strategy for adopting that agenda within 180 days; recruiting an “army” of conservatives who will work in that administration; and offering a training component to ensure that political appointees are “ready on day one.”

The group says it is not promoting any one candidate, and isn’t advising Trump — the Republicans’ presumptive 2024 nominee — on any specific policies. 

“Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign, and it is ultimately up to the president to decide which policies to implement,” a Project 2025 spokesperson said Monday in an email.  

Yet the coalition includes more than 100 conservative groups outside of Heritage, a number of which are led by former Trump administration officials. That list includes the Center for Renewing America, led by Russell Vought, who served as Trump’s head of the Office of Management and Budget and is now mentioned as a potential chief of staff in a second term; America First Legal, headed by Stephen Miller, a former Trump speechwriter and senior adviser; and the Conservative Partnership Institute, where Mark Meadows,Trump’s former chief of staff, serves as senior partner. 
 

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