We were trying to avoid weather metaphors, with Washington's thaw coinciding with a record chill. But just then the DC snowy owl got hit by a bus.
Some things to avoid, for careers' sake: snow storms in Southern cities, balconies when certain members of Congress are near, cocaine, Justin Bieber (unless you're Rob Ford). Some things to embrace: action, immigration principles, moms on couches, President Obama (if you're Mitch – not Mary – Landrieu).
With those lessons in mind, here's a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
It's not just President Obama acting now. Congress is stirring from its year-long slumber, just in time (perhaps) to act in time for the debt ceiling deadline next Friday. OK, so nobody thinks it will happen by then – and Treasury can buy a few weeks' time, per usual – but this is just the first test of whether the latest hints of action will amount to anything. The biggest legislative lift of the year still looks like immigration reform, with House Republicans' showing movement late this week in the direction of passing a bill. The critical sticking point, as always, will be what to do about undocumented immigrants already in the United States – and the question will fall to the president on whether he's open to a solution that falls short of citizenship.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets his big moment with the Super Bowl in his home state this weekend. But it's white-knuckle driving from here. Next week marks the deadline for some 20 different Christie aides and entities to hand over e-mails and other correspondence to the state legislative committee investigating the political involvement in the now-famous episode where lanes of traffic were shut down feeding the George Washington Bridge. That means more document dumps, and more opportunities for details to emerge about what Christie knew and when about the closings. His political standing has already taken a major hit, and every new revelation has the potential of being fatal to his presidential ambitions.
If actions speak louder than words, veteran Democrats are practically shouting now: "We won't win back the House." Rep. Henry Waxman's shocking retirement announcement adds him to a list of safe, veteran House retirements that includes Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., as Congress loses unimaginable quantities of institutional history. (Waxman's retirement from his Santa Monica-and-Hollywood based district also sets off a fun scramble for a seat that hasn't been open in four decades, with Sandra Fluke and former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel among those in the mix.) House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, is losing some of her most loyal lieutenants, but she's quieting rumors of her own retirement: "I'm running," she said in a statement this week.
The long-awaited State Department review of the proposed Keystone Pipeline figures to reinvigorate debate over the single biggest energy and environmental issue on the president's desk. With the air war already fierce – and the Canadians making clear they're tired of waiting – President Obama has to balance the demand for jobs and new energy sources against the concerns of the environmental community. The White House has been able to point to the State review as a reason for waiting, but the president will soon run out of excuses for why there hasn't been a final answer on Keystone. It's hard to find an issue that's as sure to inflame one side of the president's base or the other – not to mention his political opponents – as much as Keystone.
Politics may not be an Olympic sport, but the Olympics have long been a political sport – from Berlin through Mexico City, Munich, and Moscow. The start of the Sochi games next week has already been clouded by terrorism fears, with American officials pointing out that the Russians aren't eager for all of our help. And the issues surrounding the new anti-gay laws in Russia remain, with a US delegation named by President Obama designed to ensure that the American government is taking a public stand. All eyes will be on the athletes and other Americans in Russia as to how, if at all, they plan to register their views, in this age of social media, inside Putin's Russia.