Splits among House Republicans mean more gridlock — and more roadblocks for President Obama’s agenda.
By Paul West and David Lauter, Washington Bureau
December 22, 2012, 3:16 p.m.

WASHINGTON — In the days immediately after President Obama’s reelection victory, White House officials hoped that in a second term he might have better relations with congressional Republicans. The “fever will break,” more than one Obama aide forecast.

The last several days have demonstrated the opposite. Washington remains caught in a partisan stalemate on the budget, seems headed toward another on gun control and perhaps one on immigration policy as well.

That gridlock could inflict significant damage to the Republican Party. But Obama’s ability to manage an ambitious agenda in his new term also hangs in the balance.

Stalemates in Congress “may not affect his popularity all that much, but it will affect his ability to govern, if you define ability to govern as your ability to move your policy agenda forward,” said Bill Galston, a former domestic policy advisor to President Clinton.

For Republicans, the events of the last several days signal how the orthodoxy of the tea party and other conservatives dominates the party, much to the frustration of the few remaining moderates, who want to broaden the GOP’s appeal.

“We’re on the wrong side of fixing the economy and on the wrong side of where the country is going in dealing with gun violence and on comprehensive immigration reform,” said John Weaver, who advised Jon Huntsman Jr.’s campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and helped oversee 2008 GOP nominee John McCain’s presidential run.

“At this rate, we’re going to be able to put the entire party on a Carnival cruise ship and sail around the Caribbean,” he said.

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