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July 25, 2013 1:14 PM Heading Home To Talk About Fighting Washington

By Ed Kilgore

As the six-week August congressional recess approaches, House Republicans are getting their messaging together, and as Roll Call’s Matt Fuller reported earlier this week, it’s all about bashing the city in which they serve as the party controlling one-half of the legislative branch:

When House Republicans retreat to their districts for the August recess, they will each be armed with a detailed guide — an exceptionally detailed guide — on how to assure their already convinced constituents that Washington is broken.

The August House Republican Conference planning kit, titled “Fighting Washington for All Americans,” offers a rare glimpse into the constituent outreach efforts of the GOP. Those efforts, it turns out, are highly calculated, hashtag-heavy and rife with references to the video app Vine.
The best way to stay in Washington appears to be to deride Washington, and Republican leadership isn’t going to deviate from that familiar formula.
Of the many topics Republicans could delve into — the impending debt ceiling debate, immigration or, perhaps, the sequester — the 31-page GOP packet focuses on safer ground: Obamacare, jobs and the fierce hatred of all things Washington.
It includes a cookbook of events largely aimed at whacking the Obama administration and highlighting House Republicans’ efforts to fight it — while using social media every step of the way.

That sounds mighty constructive, eh?

But at Latino Decisions, David Damore takes a closer look at the House GOP messaging “kit,” and notices the implicit message it seems to be sending on immigration reform:

Notably absent from the “Planning Kit” is any discussion of immigration reform beyond a suggested messaging theme of “Reforming Immigration and Border Security.”

So if, as reform optimists hope, House Republicans are inching their way into path-to-citizenship territory by supporting relief for DREAM-ers, or have some secret plan to let the Senate bill or a House-Senate conference bill come to the floor where Democrats will lift it over the line, they’re not going to talk about it in their one extended trip back home this year.

Damore goes on to document the baleful effect the current House GOP line on immigration reform could have among likely Latino voters in competitive House districts next year. The bottom line is that they are watching the details of Republican policy, messaging and action on this issue very closely, and aren’t going to be distracted by claims the abstraction called “Washington” is to blame for every problem.

John Lee Hooker offers House Republicans a theme song: “Serves Me Right To Suffer.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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