An aide knowledgeable about the process said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and others want a document -- similar to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" in 1994 when the GOP swept into power -- identifying specific language Republicans could pass if they win back the House, Politico said.
But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., heading the document-drafting effort, said including specifics could prompt cries of backroom deals that the party has accused Democrats of making.
"(You) won't see it written out," McCarthy said of detailed legislation included in a new manifesto.
Specificity requires ensuring "you're responsive to what people are saying (and) you have to have buy-in from your conference," said Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who favors specificity.
Having a specific agenda also builds credibility, said lobbyist Robert Walker, a former GOP congressman who was involved in the 1994 Contract with America.
"You're no longer saying 'no.' You have a specific agenda out there," Walker said. "You'll take heat, no doubt; you'll have the administration stand up and criticize you."
Republicans say they are weeks, possibly months, away from a final decision on what will be in their new Contract With America, tentatively called "Commitment to America," Politico reported.
An aide said House Minority Leader John Boehner supports a "substantive document," but hasn't decided if he thinks the party should tie itself to specific legislation.