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Spending and Economy Top GOP Retreat Agenda

BALTIMORE — House Republicans kicked off their retreat here with a heavy emphasis on cutting government spending, reducing the national debt and strengthening the nation’s global economic standing.

GOP leaders said main topics of discussion during the three-day getaway will be how to handle the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling, the continuing resolution that expires March 4 and the budget.

“There’s three different items that are going to happen pretty quickly,” Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. “So one part of what’s happening here is laying out how the budget works, laying out what are the future challenges. … Giving everybody all the information is one of the main parts that we go through, but that’s not just about this weekend. That’s continuing.”

The retreat, which runs through Saturday, comes just a week after the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., which put the new majority’s legislative agenda on hold. Members are hoping to put together a path forward for the 112th Congress. On Friday morning Republicans heard from former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) in one of several sessions that focused heavily on spending and the economy.

McCarthy also made the case that the upcoming budget battles are different from those that led to a government shutdown in 1995 — shortly after the last time Republicans won control of the House with a Democrat in the White House.

“America was a different America then. … The challenges we face today are larger,” he said. “The tone will be different, but the challenges are greater, and I think that’s what you’re finding at this retreat. You’re talking about from the budget, you’re talking about from jobs: How do we make this country better?”

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