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It's a New Political Season. So Why Does It Feel Like a Re-Run?

It’s notable that nothing has changed in Washington since last summer.

More than a week after last week’s midterm elections and two days since Congress returned to work, it’s notable that nothing has changed in Washington since last summer. President Obama is set to announce executive action that could enable millions of undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States. Some Republicans are trying to stop him by either threatening to withhold government funding, which could trigger another government shutdown, or by considering to add the immigration action to the lawsuit against the president (which still hasn’t been filed, by the way). Influential conservative commentators are once again mentioning the I-word, impeachment. And to top it off, the congressional leadership elections haven’t changed a thing -- John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their lieutenants will all be in their same positions next year. (The only minor change was Senate Democrats inventing a leadership position for Elizabeth Warren.) So executive action. Threats of lawsuits and shutdowns. Impeachment. And the same ol’, same ol’ leaders. Before the midterms, one of us warned how America’s polarized politics weren’t going to change much after election. But we never realized HOW LITTLE was going to change so soon after the election.

Obama was against executive action before he was for it

As NBC’s Chris Jansing reported last night, the White House is finalizing a set of proposals to allow as many as five million immigrants to stay in the country legally, including the parents of children who are American citizens and those with high-tech skills. The White House also confirms that the action will be announced by the end of the year, though EXACTLY WHEN isn’t yet known. Yet conservatives, like the Washington Free Beacon, are reminding us that Obama was against executive action before he was for it. “With respect to the notion that I can suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case,” Obama told Univision back in 2012.

Boehner was for passing immigration reform before he was against it

One of the political figures who was re-tweeting that video of Obama saying he was against executive action before he was for it was House Speaker John Boehner. Then again, Boehner was for passing immigration reform before he was against it. Here are some choice Boehner quotes that Benjy Sarlin compiled this past summer:

-- “Immigration reform is an important issue that I think ought to be dealt with… I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.” (Interview with ABC, 11/8/12)

-- “Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not… I believe that Congress needs to deal with this issue.” (News conference, 11/21/13)

-- “Here’s the attitude, ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard.’… We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to… They’ll take the path of least resistance.” (To Middlebury Rotary Club, 4/24/14)

Gen. Dempsey once again opens door to U.S. combat troops in Iraq

Lost in yesterday’s back-and-forth over immigration was this news from Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey on ISIS: “Gen. Martin Dempsey, the nation’s highest-ranking general, said Thursday that he is considering recommending that American troops fight alongside Iraqi forces to retake the city of Mosul or border areas with Syria from ISIS militants,” NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube reported. “Sending U.S. troops into such an operation in Iraq would require orders from President Barack Obama, who has pledged that he will not send American forces into combat there. In testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Dempsey said: ‘I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those (Iraqi) forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it.’ Mik and Kube add, “Dempsey said something similar on Sept. 16, when he told a Senate committee that he would recommend sending U.S. forces into a combat role alongside Iraqis against ISIS if he believed it was necessary.”

House to hold Keystone vote around noon ET

Meanwhile, NBC’s Alex Moe reports that the House is expected to vote on its legislation green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline around noon ET. And it’s expected to pass -- again. The Senate will take up its own version as early as Tuesday.

Sunday’s MTP lineup: Jindal, Burwell

Finally, Chuck Todd’s guests on “Meet the Press” this coming Sunday are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for an exclusive interview, as well as HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

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