Democrats Begin 3-Day Retreat in Virginia

Economic Issues Top List of Concerns

Posted January 29, 2008 at 6:48pm

Echoing ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill, House Democrats will concentrate on the economy when they meet in Williamsburg, Va., today for their annual retreat.

During the three-day session at the Kingsmill Resort, Democratic lawmakers are expected to review the agenda for the coming year, but they largely will focus on economic issues, including a long-term stimulus package that could emerge later this year.

“There’s going to be a lot of ideas that are going to be discussed,” Democratic Caucus spokesman Nick Papas said. “What steps we can and should take going forward.”

In addition, Democrats will close the three-day session Friday with a keynote speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Also scheduled to address Democratic lawmakers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter and currently a trustee at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, as well as West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) also is scheduled to address lawmakers at the retreat, and he said his message will focus largely on curbing complacency among Members leading into the November elections.

“The wind continues to be at our back politically but take nothing for granted,” Van Hollen said Tuesday. He said he will warn Members not to take the DCCC’s substantial fundraising advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee for granted, and would encourage lawmakers to pay their annual dues.

“We continue to be on the offensive, but at the same time we have to make sure we protect our Members from vulnerable districts,” Van Hollen said, predicting as many as 75 to 80 House seats could be in play on Election Day.

Attendance for the Democratic retreat could dip below last year’s event, however, as many Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday they would be attend some, or none, of the event in order to be in their home states leading up to Super Tuesday’s presidential primaries.