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February 04, 2014 4:26 PM Profiles in Leadership

By Ed Kilgore

To anyone who thought my take on the House GOP Retreat was too harsh, check out these developments today.

First, here’s Mitch McConnell on immigration (via TPM’s Sahil Kapur):

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday said immigration reform poses an “irresolvable conflict” between the two chambers and predicted that it won’t be completed in 2014.
“I think we have a sort of irresolvable conflict here,” he told reporters at his weekly press conference. “The Senate insists on comprehensive [reform], the House says it won’t go to conference with the Senate on comprehensive, and wants to look at step-by-step [reform]. I don’t see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such different places.”

OK, good thing the House GOP has spent so much time on it (not to mention the endless time spent by media observers in parsing every word of its “immigration principles”).

And then here’s John Boehner himself on the debt limit increase, as House Republicans endlessly wrangle on what policy demand they should advance as the price for their support (per Daniel Newhauser at Roll Call):

Just days away from the administration’s deadline to extend the nation’s borrowing authority, Speaker John A. Boehner told House Republicans he sees no reason to pick a fight they cannot win on the issue.
“There’s no sense picking a fight we can’t win,” the Ohio Republican told members in a private conference meeting, according to sources in the room.
Leadership has been looking for a plan that could draw Republican support for a debt limit increase, and Boehner urged his members to coalesce around a plan. If they do not, he warned, the Senate could move first and tack a provision to a debt limit hike that is unpopular among Republicans, such as an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

With the president and congressional Democrats all agreeing on a “clean” debt limit bill as a matter of principle, it’s a bit bizarre that Boehner’s now saying House GOPers need an ugly hostage to substitute for a possible pretty hostage coming from the other side. But again, he’s surrendering in advance to a “clean” bill.

If this is the strategy developed at the retreat we now see rolling out, House Republicans would have been far better off just winging it.

UPDATE: The ever-watchful Greg Sargent explains why McConnell’s arguments for dismissing immigration reform as doable are BS. But the fact remains McConnell going out and saying this is bizarre at the same time House Republicans are at least pretending to take the subject seriously.

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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