Immigration reform is off until after the ’06 elections. Security and mortgage moms are bolting the GOP. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Democrats will take back the House of Representatives in November.

So how are nervous House Republicans responding in their first week back in session after a month long recess? By talking about horse meat.

The “American House Slaughter Prevention Act,” introduced by GOP Rep. John Sweeney and up for a vote Thursday, attempts to stop the sale of horse meat for human consumption. A laudable goal. But the top priority for the House?

Is this how Republicans plan to spend their two or three remaining weeks in Washington before the midterms? Well, not completely. They’ll also try and paint the Democrats as the party of “retreat and defeat” in the war on terror, by scheduling votes on defense and homeland security spending bills, and authorizing Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program (recently ruled unconstitutional by a US district court) and military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (recently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court).

Yet even the GOP’s advantage on security has eroded. Which isn’t to say that Democrats won’t find a way to blow it. But, odds are, in a few months at least some sitting Republicans will be dead as horse meat.