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The House and Senate were in recess.
The House and Senate return this week to meet in joint session to receive the president’s State of the Union address. The House will meet briefly this week before adjourning for the party's annual legislative retreat where they map out their 2014 strategy. When they reconvene, they are expected to vote on legislation restricting the use of federal funding for abortions. In addition, a long-awaited Farm Bill is expected to be released and passed as early as this week or next. The Senate is expected to take up the unfinished flood insurance legislation, as well as beginning the confirmation process for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to be Ambassador to China.
Item of Interest
The need to increase the nation's debt limit is rapidly approaching. Republicans remain adamant that they don't intend to be portrayed as holding our economy hostage, especially in an election year. Historically, a debt limit increase comes with a price. What that price will be remains to be determined, most likely this week at their annual retreat. It may be more spending cuts or speeding up the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Read more from The Hill.
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The curse of the State of the Union rebuttal
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, will step into a big spotlight Tuesday evening when she delivers the nationally televised Republican rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. But she won't necessarily have big shoes to fill. The previous Republican rebuttal speeches in the Obama era have proved to be more of a curse than a prime-time steppingstone to success.
Senate pushes envelope on gridlock
Pent-up frustration over a lack of Senate votes threatens to muck up even the least controversial measures that come before the chamber. After the recent scuttling of bipartisan bills on energy efficiency and expired jobless aid, the knotted-up chamber is reaching levels of gridlock that may make it impossible to score even legislative layups.
At retreat, House GOP will decide best way to sound retreat on the debt
Better-than-even odds say the Great Debt Limit Debate of 2014 will be over before it really gets started, maybe by the end of this week. House Republicans will decamp from the Capitol on Wednesday, hours after sitting on their hands through most of the State of the Union address, and will reconvene 85 miles away at a sleek golf resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
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