Senate GOP begins planning strategy beyond the wall

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- With the government partially shut down, Republican senators prepare for a brief staycation. Their getaway is all about strategizing for the fights that will come after the historic feud is settled.

"We want to continue to provide the incentives for people to keep more of their hard-earned money," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

Barrasso is in charge of the retreat, which will take place just down the road from Congress at Nationals' Park.

He wants his party focused on keeping the economy chugging. Broadly, he suggests more tax reform and regulation rollbacks, especially on Obama-era environmental rules.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said his party should also do more to spend less. "Frankly, Republicans haven't done as good a job [fighting the debt and deficit] as I would've liked to have seen," he said.

This year, Senate Republicans will be forced to work with the democratically-controlled House to re-open the government, or tackle their other long-term goals.

"It's a different world now," said Paul, "we have to figure out how to meet halfway in the middle on a lot of things."

Paul and Barrasso said they're holding out hope for cross-party work to cut health care costs.

That may not be politically possible, but last year, Congress proved it could work across the aisle on the opiate crisis as well as fixing roads and bridges.

"The issue is always paying for things like that," Barrasso said of the potential for stalemate even on issues where there's broad, bi-partisan consensus.

And, the sticky question of how to spend money is central to the current fight and the longest-ever federal government shutdown.

The Senate GOP retreat begins Thursday morning. House Republicans and Democrats will get together later this month or early next.

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