Dems instructed to hold recess events

House Democratic leaders are sending members home with instructions to remind their constituents about the top of the Democrats' legislative agenda – healthcare, stimulus and the energy bill.

They are asking them to hold at least two "public events or media interactions" to highlight those themes during the Independence Day recess.

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"While the economy is showing the first signs of recovery, we know Americans will feel the impacts for months to come, and we must communicate the change that is underway," said a letter to members signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders.

Leaders are also sending out talking points on the stimulus plan from the office of Vice President Joe Biden.

The instructions from leadership irritate many veteran staffers, who figure they know how to appeal to their constituents. Newer lawmakers often appreciate the guidance. Nevertheless, leadership offices call and check up on offices to see that they're done.

None of the issues are guaranteed winners in many districts. Polling shows support for overhauling the country's healthcare system, but also concerns about government involvement. And even many Democrats are at loggerheads in Congress about whether to create a government-run health option.

Once referred to as cap-and-trade, Democrats now call their climate change bill a "green jobs" bill. That hasn't stopped Republicans from calling it "cap-and-tax." And though it passed the House 219-212 just before the break, its prospects in the Senate are far from certain.

President Obama's stimulus plan has come under criticism that the money has been disbursed too slowly, isn't going to the neediest areas, and the unemployment rate has continued to climb.

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