Eyes Peeled On Health Law, GOP Shrinks Expectations For Major Election Year Action

Republican lawmakers are refocusing their election-year political efforts on hammering the health law's unpopularity even as the agenda for getting legislation done shrinks amid a tightening political climate, which could stall immigration and unemployment benefit measures.

The New York Times: House G.O.P. Trims Agenda, Looking To Avert Election-Year Trouble
Expectations for the session are so low that lawmakers say early action on White House priorities like raising the minimum wage, restoring unemployment benefits that expired and overhauling immigration laws are likely to go nowhere. Instead, Congress is likely to focus on more prosaic tasks: finishing negotiations on a farm bill that has languished for two years, agreeing on a law authorizing water projects, passing a spending bill for the current fiscal year and raising the debt ceiling by March. Only then might lawmakers move on to modest, piecemeal immigration measures (Weisman, 1/5).

Los Angeles Times: Congress Looks Ahead To A Year Of Pre-Election Battles
For Republicans the focus will be a singular one: attacking President Obama's health care law. Their campaign aims to convince voters, especially sought-after independents, that the law's troubled launch proves Democrats cannot be trusted to run the government. "Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare," said Andrea Bozek, communications director for the House GOP's campaign arm. "That theme really works in the races -- from the Northeast to the South to the Midwest to the West." Democrats will counter by trying to turn attention to pocketbook issues. They plan to begin Monday with a test vote in the Senate on a measure to extend unemployment insurance. About 1.3 million jobless Americans lost their benefits Dec. 28 because Congress declined to continue the federal aid (Mascaro, 1/5).

The Associated Press: Health Care Squarely In GOP Crosshairs
Congress returns to work today with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda. Republicans intend to focus on every facet of President Barack Obama's health care law. They see a political boost in its problem-plagued rollout as the GOP looks to maintain its House majority and seize control of the Democratic-led Senate (Cassata, 1/6).

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