Washington (CNN) – A CNN panel of political commentators see little chance for a grand bargain on the federal budget in 2014 but have some confidence for a deal on immigration reform.
"Maybe" was a common response on immigration reform's chances from a panel that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," comprised of CNN “Crossfire” co-host S.E. Cupp, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Republican strategist Ana Navarro and Center for American Progress president & CEO Neera Tanden.
The year ahead will be largely defined by the year behind, the panel agreed, focusing primarily on the reception of Obamacare and lessons learned from the partial government shutdown in October.
Going into the midterm elections, Republicans will be duking it out among themselves as much as with Democrats, still riven by internal fissures between the establishment base and the tea party. It's a split that Cupp saw as exemplified by the feud between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whom Christie has accused of being too cerebral and not focused enough on winning elections.
"That crystallizes the GOP fight of the year," Cupp said. "Do we win elections or stand on principles?"
Many so-called "establishment" Republicans are currently facing primary challenges from the right, often in the form of tea party-backed candidates holding them to a more stringent standard of conservatism.
Among those facing a challenge is the Senate's chief Republican. In Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been trying to fend off blows from tea party challenger Matt Bevin.
Navarro, a CNN contributor, argued that the primary challenges are likely to swing back in the way of Republican moderates and away from the right. After stinging losses in the past, "they've taken it seriously," she said.
While business elements are getting more heavily involved in elections, the tea party base remains angry with Republican leadership over perceived capitulations on the budget, debt ceiling and the Affordable Care Act.
"We have not heard the end of the tea party," said Brazile, also a CNN contributor.
Democrats and same-sex marriage
Discussions about the Democratic Party focused largely on key 2013 victories at the Supreme Court forsame-sex marriage advocates. Justices threw out part of a law that denied hundreds of federal benefits to same-sex couples and cleared the way for gays and lesbians to once again marry in California.
Also a number of Senate Democrats, as well as a few Senate Republicans, came out in support for same-sex marriage this year.
The issue is no longer one that will see much debate within the Democratic Party, the panelists said.
"Every Democrat will be for same-sex marriage," said Tanden.
"The question will be: Will the libertarian brand of the Republican Party support (it)?”
Glimmers of Bipartisanship
One of the few glimmers of bipartisanship identified by the panelists was the budget deal reached between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Senate budget committee, and her Republican counterpart in the House, Rep. Paul Ryan.
"They did what has become an anomaly in this town," Navarro said, arguing that the deal was accomplished because the two didn't publicly posture as in virtually every other cross-party debate.
To that, "State of the Union" host and CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley pointed out that the deal was little more than a guideline, one that is not a grand bargain but a short-term plan on spending.
"It was so minimalist," Crowley said.
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