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What is the Heritage Foundation, the think tank behind Project 2025?

At least one Texas-based group worked with the foundation to develop the roadmap for overhauling the government.

Update:
6 p.m. July 9, 2024: This story was updated with comment from a Project 2025 spokesperson.

An influential think tank is in the spotlight with its sprawling blueprint to overhaul the government gaining widespread attention.

The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 is a roadmap to help former President Donald Trump reshape the country should he win election in November. Aiming to centralize power in the executive branch, it outlines four major goals: restore the family as the centerpiece of American life; dismantle the administrative state; defend the nation’s sovereignty and borders; and secure God-given individual rights to live freely.

Proposals include scrapping job protections for thousands of government employees, banning pornography, eliminating the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and removing several terms, such as sexual orientation and abortion, from all laws and federal regulations.

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Here’s what we know about the Heritage Foundation.

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What is Heritage’s mission?

The Washington, D.C.-based foundation says on its website its mission is to develop and promote policies based on free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense.

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It was founded in 1973 by Edwin J. Feulner, who served twice as the group’s president; Paul M. Weyrich, known for coining the term “moral majority;” and Joseph Coors, the Colorado brewer who provided a $260,000 grant to start the group.

Influence in the Capitol

Heritage’s influence is far-reaching in national and state politics.

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Its website lists numerous achievements, including expanding private school vouchers in several states, preventing amnesty for undocumented immigrants in 2007 and 2018, and recommending candidates for vacant Supreme Court seats, ultimately helping to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

In addition, the group says, 64% of its policy proposals were embraced by the Trump administration through its annual budget, regulatory guidance and other actions. Heritage also takes credit for the 1996 welfare reform signed by President Bill Clinton.

Throughout the year, Heritage leaders have more than 400 meetings with congressional staff, 120 meetings with members of Congress and nearly 50 briefings with candidates, it says. Staff members have worked for Republican presidential administrations since the Reagan era.

Project 2025 controversy

The group’s 900-page roadmap to reshape the government has alarmed Democrats and some independent voters, who say Project 2025 would amount to a radical shift. Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts sparked further alarm when he referenced political violence this month.

“We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” Roberts told the War Room podcast, founded by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, this month.

Trump, meanwhile, has publicly distanced himself from the plan. “I know nothing about Project 2025,” Trump posted on his social media site. “I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.”

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Trump’s official platform, Agenda47, outlines his goals and proposals.

In a statement Tuesday to The Dallas Morning News, a Project 2025 spokesperson said the plan is not tied to a specific candidate.

“As we’ve been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign. We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy and personnel recommendations for the next conservative president,” the statement said. “But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement.”

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Who wrote Project 2025?

Two former officials for the Trump administration are leading the project. Paul Dans, who served as chief of staff in the Office of Personnel Management under Trump, is director of Project 2025. Associate director Spencer Chretien served as special assistant to Trump and associate director of presidential personnel.

Project 2025 also reflects input from more than 100 conservative organizations and is the product of more than 400 scholars and policy experts, many of whom worked for the Trump administration.

At least one of the contributing organizations is based in Texas. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based think tank, is a vocal proponent of private school vouchers and fighting critical race theory, the academic framework that examines the way policies and laws uphold systemic racism.

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