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February 06, 2014 12:47 PM Another GOP Retreat

By Ed Kilgore

After the rather ambivalent (some would say counterproductive) results of last week’s House GOP retreat, Senate Republicans had their own yesterday, choosing the nearby Library of Congress rather than some out-of-town destination where Capitol Hill reporters would be forced to cool their heels cut off from their usual eating haunts as well as any real access to the solons they cover.

According to an after-action report from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, Senators spent half a day listening to the mixed opinions of external handicappers about their odds of regaining control of the chamber, and another half on what passes for “policy” in those precincts.

Senate Republicans received another shot of good news at the retreat Wednesday, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told them privately that he does not expect another knock-down, drag-out fight to raise the debt limit later this month….
Immigration reform is another potential landmine for Republicans. Senate Republicans don’t want to see the issue rear its head again in the summer or fall, when it could spark an angry backlash from their conservative base at the height of primary season.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday ruled out a bipartisan bargain on immigration reform this year.
“I think we have sort of an irresolvable conflict here,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place.”
Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Congress should consider incremental immigration reforms that have broad bipartisan support instead of a sprawling overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
“I would welcome the opportunity to deal with those issues that are broadly supported,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with everything. We ought to deal with what we can.”

Translated out of congressional-speak, this means the pious hope of finding bits and pieces of immigration legislation that are very popular but don’t honk off the conservative activists who fear a leadership-generated shell game producing “amnesty.”

But there’s a better idea that is more feasible:

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said it would make sense to wait until 2015 to tackle immigration reform, when Republicans could control both chambers of Congress.

So Senate Republicans are excited about not making the debt limit vote substantive or controversial, and maybe taking a pass on immigration reform, too.

Just wait til they get around to forming a consensus view on Obamacare alternatives and messaging.

These guys sound like they hope to win the Senate by default in November, and then figure it all out.

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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