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Super GOP Weekend

Congressional Republicans will convene in the City of Brotherly Love late next month for three days to discuss policy initiatives and plot political strategy in anticipation of the 2004 elections. [IMGCAP(1)]

GOP Senators and Representatives are scheduled to meet in Philadelphia on Jan. 29, 30 and 31, the same city where Republicans nominated then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 2000 to be their party’s presidential candidate. Bush and Vice President Cheney will once again be invited to attend this year’s meeting.

“There are just a lot of reasons why this makes sense for us to do it there,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said. “It has got the capacity to do it. … It has the security, it has great venues, it has history and it is close.”

Last year, Bush joined Congressional Republicans at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and spoke about a number of domestic issues, including the need for Congress to pass a Medicare prescription drug bill. Congress approved the Medicare measure prior to the Thanksgiving Day recess.

The GOP meeting ends on Saturday, giving those lawmakers interested in attending the Super Bowl enough time to travel to Houston.

House Democrats Huddle. Democratic leaders will convene a one-day issues conference Tuesday on their two election-year issues of homeland security and the economy.

The session is designed to develop a party message and legislative proposals.

“This event won’t immediately create a legislative initiative, but it will be one of several steps toward having a message we are united upon and legislative initiatives to showcase our ideas,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.).

The session will feature national security panelists such as former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.). Peter Orszag, senior director for Sebago Associates, and former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling will speak on the economy.

Looking Ahead. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) released the 2004 legislative calendar last week, with the chamber scheduled to gavel into session on Jan. 20 and a target adjournment date of Oct. 1.

Recesses are scheduled for Feb. 16-20, April 5-16, May 24-28, June 28-July 5 and July 26-Sept. 6.

The deviations between the House and Senate calendars come in the spring. The Senate plans to take off March 15-19, while the House will be in that week. The Senate’s April recess goes from the 12th to the 16th, while the House will be out a week longer.

— Mark Preston and Ben Pershing

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