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February 18, 2014 9:24 AM Wake Me Up In November

By Ed Kilgore

We can all agree, or agree to disagree, about the Great Debt Limit Non-Confrontation of 2014, which either showed the mendacious genius of GOP congressional leaders or their mendacious fecklessness. But according to WaPo’s well-sourced Robert Costa, that’s the closest thing to drama you are going to see this year:

After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within the GOP and shelving any big-ticket legislation for the rest of the year.
Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law — bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.
GOP brass in both chambers have shifted their focus to stability, looking to avoid intraparty drama, rally behind incumbents and build Republicans’ ground game ahead of November’s midterm elections, where they hope to be competitive in a slew of Senate races and hold on to the party’s 17-seat House majority.
In that vein, championing a handful bills on job growth, energy and regulatory policy — all targeted at courting swing voters but unlikely to win Democratic support — has become a priority, with party leaders planning to spend months seeking consensus among Republicans and avoiding talks on controversial matters.

Gee, it’s a shame congressional Republicans can’t just go to sleep and wake up and it’s election day! Not only would that avoid the risk of attracting attention to the GOP’s unpopular agenda and its resistance to popular measures like a minimum wage increase, but it would also deal with the party’s other problem: that in the absence of any real game plan, it will be defined by the noise coming from primaries, particularly the high-profile Senate contests that begin rolling out in May. If a couple of the “wrong” candidates win, there’s your Republican “story” for 2014, since the Establishment has chosen not to write its own.

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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