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Lawmakers: 2014 could be a year of action

Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are cautiously optimistic that 2014 will be a productive year in the nation's capital.

The Hill interviewed both members on what they expect from President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Obama has repeatedly said 2014 must be a "year of action."

Jenkins, the vice chair of the House Republican Conference, criticized Obama's threatened use of executive power to go around Congress. She also noted that the GOP-led House has passed more than 150 bills that the Democratic-led Senate hasn't acted on.

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Van Hollen, the ranking member on the Budget Committee, is hopeful the House will act on immigration reform. But he says that remains to be seen. If Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn't move a bill, Van Hollen said the House should vote on the Senate-passed immigration reform measure.

Asked about the 2014 midterm elections, Jenkins expressed confidence the House would stay in the GOP's hands, while Van Hollen said a Democratic takeover is "a possibility."

Jenkins and Van Hollen agree the economy is a top issue this year but have different views on how to create more jobs. Republicans are pushing for deregulation and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Democrats want the minimum wage lifted and unemployment benefits extended. Some on Capitol Hill believe there could be a bipartisan agreement this year on an infrastructure bill.