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Highlight Fights May Detract From Jobs Focus

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

That same day, Boehner told radio host Laura Ingraham that although the Holder contempt resolution is a necessary part of Congress’ oversight responsibilities, “politically this may not be the smartest thing to do.”

Nevertheless, the health ruling and the contempt resolution present a test for leadership in preventing its Members from getting carried away, one GOP operative noted.

GOP aides, however, argue that even though the Fast and Furious fight does not fit neatly into the jobs narrative, it is a net win for the party.

They feel it invigorates the Republican base without alienating independents and draws the Obama administration into a hand-to-hand fight with an unpopular Congress, a body they freely admit drags down the president’s approval rating by mere association.

While the contempt fight was lighting up headlines last week, the House passed a package of energy bills that leadership hyped as a jobs initiative that would spur energy production by stripping regulations.

And next month, Cantor said the House will vote on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

“While perhaps some in the White House and others want to talk about other things ... we’re going to be talking about the repeal of regulations, cutting the red tape that’s stopping the job creation, and we’re going to make sure that the message that we send is that we’d like the president and the Democrats to join us in making sure taxes don’t go up on anybody,” Cantor said.

For now, Democrats are content to allow Republicans to stay away from economic issues. Asked whether they would try to throw Republicans off message, one Democratic leadership aide said, “They’re doing it themselves, they don’t need our help.”

Democrats will continue to hammer their counterparts on the transportation bill. Aides said that isolates House Republicans who remain opposed to taking up the Senate-passed version of the highway bill.

Immigration looks to return to the fore with the court’s decision on Arizona’s law. Obama flummoxed Republicans earlier this month by announcing an executive action to stop deporting some young immigrants who have been in the country for a long time.

Though immigration issues are not overtly about jobs, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said some believe they are.

“There is an undercurrent out there about are we losing American jobs to people who aren’t here legally,” he said.

Long-term, though, he said Republican have their eye on the ball.

“There’s always a wide buffet of issues out there, but the one [Americans] care most about is jobs and the economy,” he said. “So this will be something they’ll be interested in, they’ll focus on for a period of time, and depending on how these decisions come out, it’ll determine how long they’re focused, but the core issue will always remain the economy and jobs.”

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