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This Week in Congress - February 19, 2010

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"This Week in Congress" Script:

I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson of Capitol News Connection. This Week in Congress…AMB gavel

…was a recess week. But not an off-week entirely.

VAN HOLLEN While the Congress will not be in formal session, there will be ongoing discussions to move forward on the jobs front. T541

Congressman Chris Van Hollen and other House Democrats would spend the week regrouping, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced plans to move forward with a significantly scaled-back version of a jobs bill. That decision came just before the recess and in the throes of a now-infamous blizzard.

VAN HOLLEN I hope people will take this time while Washington is snowed under to iron out differences that we have and be in a position to move very rapidly when Congress reconvenes.

In the meantime, a symbolic anniversary rolled around.

BIDEN It’s easy to forget the first quarter of last year, the economy shrunk over 6%. The last quarter of this year it grew over 6%. Something’s happening. Something positive is happening…

If Vice President Joe Biden sounds less than jubilant… it could be because Democrats continue to have a marketing challenge on their hands when it comes to touting the relative effects of the economic stimulus program. And Republicans like Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania have their own version:

SHUSTER The majority voted for a massive stimulus bill that hasn’t worked.

OBAMA One year later it is largely thanks to the recovery act that a second Depression is no longer a possibility.

In his remarks Wednesday, the President seized on an emerging theme…

OBAMA There are those let’s face it across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up for ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts. [applause]

While Democrats control the White House and Congress (and therefore the message), Republicans also used this week to crank up the volume across town.

CHENEY [cheering] "A welcome like that almost makes me want to run for office."

Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which began Thursday. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas took issue with the idea that there is any crisis in the health care system.

ARMEY 1: Which is a notion you’re getting away with peddling despite the fact that America has the greatest health care in the world.

In this election year, Republicans are shoring up their traditional base while also trying to expand their reach among young and minority voters. And honing their strategy to harness the grassroots energy of so-called “Tea Party” activists.

Indiana Republican Mike Pence got nothing less than evangelical.

PENCE Let us stand for what has always been the source of American greatness: our faith in God and our freedom. And if we hold that banner high, I believe with all my heart, the good and great ppl of this land will rally to our cause. We will take this Congress back in 2010 and we will take this country back in 2012. So help us God. [cheering] Reenergized or not, Republicans and Democrats return to work Monday. Majority Leader Reid wants a vote on the Senate jobs package as soon as possible. Also next week, the CEO of Toyota rolls into town. He received a strongly-worded ‘invitation’ from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is eager to delve into Toyota's recent problems with little things like unexpected acceleration and inconsistent braking. If there’s one thing Congress knows, it’s stop and go… stop and go… That was This Week in Congress.

I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson, Capitol News Connection.

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