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DC 2014: Cold shoulder likely for hot-button issues

Lawmakers in Washington won't touch hot-button issues such as immigration and tax reform next year, but they also won't shut down the federal government again, two Beltway insiders told CNBC on Friday.

House Republicans won't address immigration reform because of midterm elections next year, Capital Alpha Partners Managing Director Chuck Gabriel told CNBC on "Squawk Box." They also want the White House to commit to an immigration enforcement policy before they'd consider Democratic proposals, he said.

"It really is a nonstarter," Gabriel said, "largely because House Republicans are looking at re-election in carefully crafted red-state Republican districts, and this doesn't buy them anything."

(Read more: Sick of all the Obamacare drama? Wait for 2014...)

Tony Fratto, White House deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush and current partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, agreed, saying immigration reform failed not only because of damaged trust between the House and Senate but also a lack of public engagement on the issue.

"There are too many people who misunderstand how important economically immigration is to the country," Fratto said. "There are really good economic reasons to do it and people misunderstand that. I think it's our fault for not doing a better job of educating across the country the benefits of immigration."

(Read more: Obama signs bipartisan budget deal, annual defense bill)

Gabriel said the GOP seems more in favor of extending the debt ceiling than suspending it, especially since they've taken a do-no-harm approach going into an election year.

Fratto said tax reforms would fail because lawmakers would have a hard time finding "enough winners across the political spectrum." He did predict that trade would become a hot-button issue next year, as the Obama administration tries to nail down two big deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership. He likened the issue to the heated debates over NAFTA in the 1990s.

"We haven't been talking about trade in this country for a long time," Fratto said. "In 2014, we're going to be talking about trade a lot, and these are going to be big contentious deals."

(Read more: Sick of all the Obamacare drama? Wait for 2014)

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."

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