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Congress: Health care, debt ceiling, immigration on GOP retreat agenda

Tim Alberta reports that House Speaker John Boehner would like Republicans to emerge from their retreat with an alternative to Obamacare, “but the speaker's words were met with skepticism by conservative lawmakers and aides, who have long feared Boehner's team would snub a pair of sweeping Obamacare replacement plans that have widespread support in the House GOP.”

And it’s not just health care, today’s a big day for immigration reform, too, from the retreat: “Immigration-reform watchers will keep a sharp eye on the House Republican retreat, where on Thursday leadership will unveil a set of immigration principles to its conference. And while seeing comprehensive law enacted this year would be a major feat, advocates consider the fact that Republicans are even discussing reform a win,” National Journal writes.

Harry Reid and Barack Obama are not on the same page on trade. Political Wire: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ‘broke publicly with the White House Wednesday on trade policy, instantly imperiling two major international trade deals and punching a hole in one piece of the economic agenda the president outlined in his State of the Union address a day earlier,’ the Wall Street Journal reports. Said Reid: ‘I'm against fast track. I think everyone would be well-advised just not to push this right now.’”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) traveled to Iowa last week and likes their health-care system. National Journal: “Cuba is a ‘poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours,’ the Iowa Democrat said to reporters Wednesday. ‘Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It's interesting—their public health system is quite remarkable.’”