Democrats, GOP Will Discuss Plans at Retreats

Posted January 11, 2008 at 5:41pm

Economic discussions are expected to dominate the agenda when House Democrats and Republicans gather at their respective retreats later this month.

House Democrats will again descend on the Kingsmill Resort & Spa in Williamsburg, Va., for their meeting from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.

“House Democrats’ annual issues conference in late January is an opportunity for members to discuss our agenda for the year and the challenges ahead,” said Democratic Caucus spokesman Nick Papas.

“With a recession looming, Democrats will focus on our ongoing effort to strengthen the economy and aid middle-class families,” he added.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to address Democratic lawmakers in a keynote speech.

In addition to the economy, Members are likely to discuss a wide range of policy issues, from the Iraq War to immigration, but those details have yet to be finalized.

House Republicans will hold their retreat Jan. 24-26 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

“The event is designed to review House Republicans’ very successful 2007 and discuss how we can most effectively communicate our positive agenda on behalf of the American people in 2008,” said a Republican leadership aide, who asked not to be identified.

The retreat’s schedule has yet to be finalized, but the aide said Members are expected to discuss a variety of issues.

“The economy is one of many issues on the American people’s kitchen table. We will discuss an economic agenda, including our plans for lower taxes, spending restraint and also health care and energy,” the aide added.

In addition, elected House GOP leaders were holding their own three-day retreat, ending today, in St. Michaels, Md.

House Republican leaders held a similar retreat in late 2006 to discuss floor and communications strategies before meeting with rank-and-file GOP lawmakers a few weeks later.

“We’ll use that same model this year,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), noting that the GOP strategy to use the procedural motions to recommit to force difficult votes on Democrats resulted from the 2006 meeting.

“It really sets the stage for the entire year to get our leadership team unified, everybody speaking with one voice so we can go into the Members’ retreat later in January to accomplish everything we need to accomplish at that retreat,” he added.

“We’re going to continue to define what the Democrats are in terms of their tax-and-spend agenda,” Smith said of leadership plans for the retreat. He said Republicans also would put forward “bold and innovative solutions that contrast with failed policies Democrats have been putting forward.”