Getaway Day for the GOP
Today is a travel day for Capitol Briefing as he journeys to White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., to cover the House GOP's annual retreat at the lovely Greenbrier resort. The event will run from today through Saturday.
These gatherings allow members to relax a bit -- many bring their families along -- and strategize on the year ahead. Back when Republicans were in the majority, the party's retreats were sometimes the scene for important decisions on what bills would and wouldn't get on the House agenda in the coming months.
With the GOP now on the outside of power looking in, House Republicans can't really set the agenda anymore, but they still have plenty to discuss. Here are a few expected highlights:
â€¢ On Friday, President Bush will join the members for lunch. This occurs most every year. Typically, Bush will speak for a time and then take questions from the members. His speech will (hopefully) be open to the media but the member Q & A won't be. Capital Briefing assumes some conservatives will buttonhole Bush about the direction of the stimulus debate.
â€¢ National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) will at some point make a full presentation to members on the electoral landscape. While Cole and other party leaders are publicly rosy about their campaign prospects, in private members will want Cole to be honest about where they stand. The bottom line is that the GOP has a lot of open seats to defend and a lot less money to spend than Democrats do.
â€¢ On Saturday morning, the GOP Conference is expected to get into a serious discussion about earmark reform and what proposals to push in the new year. This is a key part of the party's message -- that Democrats haven't gone far enough to curb earmarks or increase transparency. Party leaders hope to have a consensus on this by retreat's end.
Beyond those major happenings, Republicans will have breakout sessions on individual issues and campaign themes. They'll have a family movie night. They may hit the spa. And on a broader level, they'll try to figure out how hard they should fight Democrats this year, and on what fronts.
Capital Briefing will bring you some regular updates along the way, and he leaves you with this query: What questions should members ask Bush during Friday's lunch? Leave any suggestions in the comments section below.
January 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: 2008 Campaign , Agenda , GOP Leaders , House
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