House members to get Veterans Day week off

House members have been told they can expect to have a recess during the week that includes Veterans Day, unless they need to be in Washington for votes on healthcare.

Veterans Day falls on a Wednesday (Nov. 11) this year, so if Congress stayed in, lawmakers would have to leave and return to Washington to finish out the week. Many members prefer being in their districts for Veterans Day observances.

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But taking the week off leaves very little time in November for legislating, because there's only one week between Veterans Day week and the Thanksgiving recess. And the ever-expanding healthcare debate could be coming to a head at that point.

So House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has told members they can plan on being out that week, with the understanding that might change, aides said.

That recess could come as a gift to President Barack Obama.

The White House announced Wednesday that the president will depart on an extensive Asian tour on Nov. 11 that will take him to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.

Obama has struggled to maintain message discipline and party unity on his key domestic agenda items when he travels abroad.

Most notably, during Obama's last long foreign trip, the president was forced to send a statement from Russia walking back comments White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel made floating the idea of backing away from the public health insurance option.

That trip, which also included the G-8 summit in Italy and a speech in Ghana, represented a sharp break in momentum in the healthcare debate for the administration, and Obama has struggled to regain his footing on the issue since.