"We’ve come to the realization that it’s not going to be enough to be against the president"

Suddenly, the House GOP wants to be a party of action, not just “the party of no.”

But it is unclear whether the new image is real. Can Boehner pass an immigration bill through the House with support from both parties? Or, will the new normal quickly revert to the old normal, with its leaders forced to craft bills that can only pass the House if 217 votes can be found from among the Republican ranks?

Either future seems possible after the House GOP’s strategic retreat at this snow-covered resort on the Chesapeake Bay.

The promise of something new came with the release of immigration principles including a commitment to legal status for illegal immigrants. Even GOP opponents concede this is a significant shift that makes a deal seem possible.

Yet Republicans left many details undecided on immigration, the federal borrowing limit and tax reform. Some of them warn that a more liberal immigration bill will alienate the GOP base and depress voter turnout — the key to winning a midterm election.