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Back to Capitol Hill

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Back to Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers are streaming back to Capitol Hill after their summer vacation for an abbreviated September session in which feuding Democratic and Republican leaders promise action to prevent a government shutdown while holding votes aimed at defining the parties for the fall campaign.

Republicans control the House and want to pad their 17-vote majority, so they intend to follow this simple rule: first, do no harm.

Last fall, they sparked a partial government shutdown over the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health law. Now, Republicans are pressing for drama-free passage of a temporary spending bill to prevent a shutdown at month’s end and fund government agencies into mid-December.

The Senate is sure to go along if the measure is kept free of objectionable add-ons.

House Republicans also plan votes aimed at drawing attention to legislation they say would boost jobs and energy production.

“We’re set up to paint a very stark contrast between ourselves and the Democrats who run Washington – if we take advantage of it by getting our work done and getting our message out,” House Speaker John Boehner, Republican-Ohio, told colleagues in a conference call last week.

Boehner said that message – “our closing argument” he called it – would focus on ways to get people back to work and “restore opportunity” for Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat-Nevada, seems most intent on getting endangered incumbents from Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina back campaigning as soon as possible.

He is planning to adjourn the Senate by September 23 after dispensing with the spending measure and holding votes – destined to lose – on Democratic planks such as raising the minimum wage and block the flow of unlimited, unregulated campaign cash from the wealthy, including the billionaire Koch brothers.