Chris Christie is shrinking, and the House Republican conference is growing. What's old will be new again: An immigration bill is barely moving, the IRS looks like it's playing politics, and there's another health care repeal vote in the offing. Hillary Rodham Clinton is even back in the spotlight, and may be back before Congress soon. So much for beaches and speeches to keep her occupied in retirement. All that and more are among the stories the ABC News political unit is tracking in the week ahead:
|Heat on Hillary|
Benghazi is back as a hot political issue, and Hillary Rodham Clinton's leadership is coming under new scrutiny. This past week brought a top State Department official who was on the ground in Libya questioning Clinton's conduct at the time and suggesting a top Clinton aide sought to stop him from talking to a Republican member of Congress. And the 12 versions of the post-Benghazi talking points obtained by ABC News' Jonathan Karl strongly suggest political considerations went into the administration's response, with a dose of that pressure coming from Clinton's State Department. Already, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is calling for Clinton to come back before Congress on Benghazi. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says the revelations mean Clinton "should never hold high office again" -- just in case there was any doubt about 2016 implications.
Week one of debate over the comprehensive immigration reform bill was marked by a conservative civil war, mainly over a widely panned Heritage Foundation report predicting enormous taxpayer costs. On the legislative front, the bill survived its first series of Senate Judiciary Committee votes, dispatching 32 amendments in a single day without fracturing the Gang of Eight bipartisan coalition. The bad news for the bill is that there's still 250 amendments left, just in this single committee, and the tough votes are still to come. The biggest threats to the bill's progress may actually come from the left: Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is offering amendments that would extend extra rights to the partners of gay U.S. citizens. It's an issue most Democratic lawmakers support -- and would be called out loudly for not supporting -- but it's also a near-certain deal-breaker with Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The IRS admitted late this week that some Tea Party-affiliated groups were inappropriately targeted for additional scrutiny by low-level agency employees. It's a stunning revelation that confirms the worst suspicions some people, not just those skeptical of the Obama administration, harbor about the federal government. The story -- colored by an IRS official's odd public statement, "I'm not good at math" -- prompted the expected calls for congressional investigations, and the White House says it's supporting those efforts. But this is the kind of story that could seriously undercut the administration's credibility, even though it stops far short of the White House in its reach. It's already primed to be a permanent Tea Party talking point, and this has the potential to be more, depending on other details that emerge.
|Try, Try Again|
On the House docket in the week ahead will be an attempt to repeal Obamacare. If you're scoring at home -- and you don't have to, since we're doing it for you -- this will be the 37th time the Republican-controlled House will have voted to repeal all or part of the Obama health care law. That's the same law the Supreme Court upheld last year in a landmark ruling, and the same law House Speaker John Boehner declared to be "the law of the land" in telling ABC News' Diane Sawyer right after the 2012 election that there would be no more repeal attempts. What changed? The law hasn't gotten much more popular, and concerns about its implementation have only grown; one prominent Democrat who voted for the law called implementation a "train wreck" recently. Republicans know their repeal effort won't go anywhere, but they also know there are plenty of Democrats who would rather not vote again to affirm that the Obama health care law should remain in place.