The sun sets behind the U.S. Capitol, where President Barack Obama will present a speech on his jobs plan Thursday night.AP FILE PHOTO
WASHINGTON — Congress returns to work this coming week, divided over measures to create jobs and scorned by the nation it was elected to help lead.
After a five-week break, Republican and Democratic leaders alike promise action to try and ease the country’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate and boost an economy that is barely growing. President Barack Obama goes first on Thursday night with a speech to lawmakers and a prime-time national television audience.
But there is little overlap so far in the measures that Republicans and Democrats are recommending, and the rest of the year-end congressional agenda is top-heavy with items that relate to government spending and less directly to job creation.
A new committee, comprised of lawmakers in both parties from both houses and armed with extraordinary powers, is expected to hold its first meeting this week as it begins work on a plan to make long-term deficit cuts. The panel was created as part of last month’s agreement to reduce red ink and avert a government default. It faces a Nov. 23 deadline for action.
More immediately, parts of the Federal Aviation Administration will shut down on Sept. 16 unless Congress approves a measure to keep operations running. Federal money for highway construction jobs runs out two weeks later without separate legislation.