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Republicans from the House and Senate just wrapped up a retreat in Pennsylvania. It's the first time in 10 years that they've held their retreats together, a sign of how much party leadership want the groups to collaborate now that the GOP controls both chambers of Congress. But as NPR's Juana Summers reports, the retreat ended without consensus on one big issue.
JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: Republicans took a two-day retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a tourist town known as The Sweetest Place on Earth, to find common ground on big issues facing Congress. But one topic, one that Republicans don't agree on, dominated discussion this week. Republicans remain deadlocked over how to confront President Obama on immigration.
Earlier this week, House Republicans passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but attached policy provisions that would rollback Obama's actions on immigration, including last month's move to allow people who are in the country illegally, but have close family who are here legally, to stay. The House bill would also overturn Obama's 2012 program allowing children who were brought by their parents to the U.S. illegally to stay. While the bill did pass the House, some moderate Republicans, like Congressman Jeff Denham of California, said it went too far.
REPRESENTATIVE JEFF DENHAM: I think by adding the deferred action amendment in here it goes back to a situation where you've got kids that came here to no fault of their own that we need to have a full discussion and debate on that now are going to be put at the top of the list for ICE to deport, if this were to become law. I think that that sends the wrong message to the American public on what our overall reform ideas are.
SUMMERS: But others, like Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, said that Republicans needed to take a strong stand.
REPRESENTATIVE JASON CHAFFETZ: Well, look, we can't always gravitate to the lowest common denominator. I think we've got to do what we believe is right. And I think the president totally overstepped - totally - in his executive amnesty.
SUMMERS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he'd like to see the Senate pass the House's bill. But the math will make that difficult. Senator John Thune, of South Dakota, put it this way...
SENATOR JOHN THUNE: The magic number in the Senate is 60.
SUMMERS: To get 60 votes in the Senate, this bill would have to get support of some Senate Democrats along with nearly all Republican senators, and that's unlikely to happen. Even if the bill did reach President Obama, he's said he'd veto it. That would put Congress back at the starting line with a tight deadline. Lawmakers only have until February 27 to figure out how to fund the Homeland Security Department. That's when money appropriated under the current spending bill runs out. Juana Summers, NPR News, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
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