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House GOP Looks to Focus on Defense

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) tacked an amendment to the reauthorization that would prohibit same-sex marriage ceremonies on military bases, while Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) added another amendment that would shield chaplains who object to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” from reprisal.

Obama has “used the military as a campaign prop to advance the liberal agenda,” Akin said in a statement. “Whatever Obama’s views may be, I find it appalling that he would so blatantly use the military for political cover on this controversial issue.”

But just as Boehner sidestepped questions on gay marriage last week, don’t look for leadership to either engage in the gay marriage debate or tolerate having their messaging hijacked by social conservatives during the defense reauthorization bill.

The leadership aide said there has been “no discussion” of gay marriage during top-level discussions on the agenda, and Boehner has made it clear he won’t be pulled into a religious war if he can help it.

“The president and Democrats can talk about this all they want, but the American people are focused on jobs and the economy,” the Speaker told reporters Thursday.

“I’m going to stay focused on jobs,” he added.

House Democrats, meanwhile, hope to continue to strike out at their counterparts over the House-passed budget and last week’s reconciliation package, which included cuts to social programs for the poor.

House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) will also be at the Peterson fiscal summit, offering an economic vision to compete with Boehner and Ryan’s. “It’s Republicans protecting millionaires over the middle class,” one aide said.

The House might also hand embattled Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), a former FBI officer, a political win during National Police Week if it proceeds to vote on his bill to institute a national “Blue Alert” to help find people suspected of killing or injuring law enforcement officers. The system would work much like the Amber Alert, which helps locate abducted children. The bill might come up under suspension of the rules.

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