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Congress: House GOP divide on display -- again

NBCNews.com’s Michael O’Brien: “A seemingly mundane vote on Wednesday intended to help Republicans soften their image on the health care issue laid bare some of the still-raw divisions between the GOP’s pragmatists and the party’s more obstinate ideologues. House Republican leaders were forced to pull a vote on legislation designed as a prime opportunity to fuse conservative priorities with a proposal easily grasped by voters: improving coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Conservative lawmakers fretted that the proposal would perpetuate an element of ‘Obamacare,’ and once again balked at supporting Republican leaders. The situation illustrated, again, the party leaders’ difficulty in managing some of the GOP’s most unruly conservatives.”

“The House of Representatives will spend 15% less on its own operations this year than it did three years ago under a cost-cutting effort launched by Speaker John Boehner that is on pace to have saved taxpayers more than $400 million by the end of this year,” USA Today says. “When Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, Boehner, the new speaker, said cutting House spending would be a priority. Since then, House lawmakers have seen a nearly 20% decrease in their office budgets. Three years ago, the average lawmaker had an annual $1.5 million budget, which is down to $1.2 million. Those budgets — which vary by office — cover everything from staff salaries to district office rent and bottled water.”

“With Congress and the flying public up in arms over airline delays caused by Federal Aviation Administration furloughs, lawmakers seem somehow caught off guard by the extent of the problem caused by the sequester,” Roll Call reports.

At 9:00 am ET, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform joins others to unveil a new Winston Group (R) poll showing support for comprehensive immigration reform.