House will return for short work week

The House returns next week to kick off the second session of the 111th Congress, but it will take lawmakers some time to work up to full speed.

The House will only be in session Tuesday and Wednesday and aides to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said floor action will be limited to suspension votes.

Off the floor, most of the House's attention will remain on shaping a compromise on healthcare bills passed by the House and Senate, and on a Democratic issues conference Thursday at Fort McNair.

After that conference, the House will break until Jan. 19, when the Senate is also scheduled to return.

A detailed agenda for the issues conference, which is expected to provide a roadmap for how House Democratic leaders will proceed during an election year, is still in the works. President Obama and former President Bill Clinton will speak at the retreat, lawmakers said Thursday.

Aides said the biggest discussion will be on how to address the ailing economy and continued high unemployment rates. Many Democrats have complained that the health care debate has distracted the Obama administration and Congress from doing enough to create jobs.

As part of a revved-up focus on the economy, Speaker nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., plans to lead a congressional leadership delegation to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show and discussions with officials in a state that has been hard hit by the economic slump. Dates of the trip have not been released, but the auto show starts Monday and continues through Jan. 24.

House Republicans will hold their own issues retreat later this month in Baltimore.

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