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Conservative Events Will Bookend Retreat

With the bicameral Republican retreat set to begin Thursday, House and Senate conservatives plan to bracket that gathering with two meetings of their own.

Members of the two chambers’ conservative caucuses — the House Republican Study Committee and the Senate Republican Steering Committee — will meet today at the Heritage Foundation’s Capitol Hill headquarters to plot pre-game strategy for the larger Republican retreat scheduled for later this week.

Then on Feb. 3, a larger group of House and Senate GOP lawmakers will venture to Baltimore for another Heritage-sponsored gathering, the Conservative Members Retreat.

Featured speakers at the three-day Baltimore event will include former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), ex-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Chuck Colson.

“The Conservative Members Retreat has really set the tone for each new session of Congress,” said Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee. “Our intention was to try and bring the top thinkers in the conservative movement in the country together with policymakers.”

Pence said he expected more than half of the RSC’s approximately 100 members to attend the February retreat. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the head of the Republican Steering Committee, will take the lead in recruiting attendees from that chamber.

The goals of the retreat will include improving communication between House and Senate conservatives and coordinating strategy for upcoming legislative battles.

“My personal hope is that we would come away from the retreat with a very clear set of deal-breakers on each of [President Bush’s] main initiatives as well as other Members’ initiatives in Congress,” Pence said.

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