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Congress: Backing away from debt-ceiling fight?

Mitch McConnell: "I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling, when we have a debt the size of our economy, is irresponsible.”

Yet: “Speaker John A. Boehner will seek to emerge from a three-day House Republican retreat next week with a diminished opposition inside his party to avoid a showdown in the 11 legislative days that remain before the federal government exhausts its borrowing authority,” the New York Times notes. “House Republicans will begin their retreat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on Wednesday, still divided over how to raise the federal debt limit, overhaul immigration laws, challenge President Obama’s health care law, and address privacy issues highlighted by National Security Agency surveillance. But with the passage of a budget in December and a detailed spending bill this month, Mr. Boehner and other Republican leaders have the upper hand in the simmering disputes.”

Roll Call puts it more bluntly: “At Retreat, House GOP Will Decide Best Way to Sound Retreat on the Debt.” From the story: “The leaders have a few fig leaf feints in mind — one involves the Keystone XL pipeline, the other congressional pay — and it’s likely they’ll settle on a plan that allows their team at least one burst of bellicosity and a couple of hostage-taking roll calls.”

The Washington Post: “Recent signals from House Republican leaders that they will pursue their own vision of immigration reform have presented the White House with an opening to achieve a major legislative deal this year that has eluded lawmakers for decades. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to release a brief outline of immigration principles to his caucus as soon as its annual retreat next week. The goals would include strengthening border security and creating new visas for foreign workers, while providing a path toward legalizing the status of the nation’s 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants, according to people briefed on the deliberations.”

It all comes down to “citizenship” and whether Democrats will accept leaving at least some immigrants with no path ever.

David Rogers: “Congress should finally see a new farm bill this week as House-Senate negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of filing the legislation by Monday night. Going into Sunday night, disputes continued over livestock regulations. But afternoon staff briefings were already being held on the proposed agreement, and the hope was to call the conferees together for their signatures on Monday.”