Familiar recess scripts: Dems tout successes, GOP to slam agenda

Senate Democrats and Republicans will stick to familiar scripts during their five-week August recess, according to the messages they have received from their leaders, with Democrats touting their legislative success and the GOP criticizing an “overreaching” agenda.

Recess packets distributed to all members show the two parties aren’t likely to stray from those core messages, with the Nov. 2 election just three months away. The packets are used by both parties to keep members on message during weeks when Congress is on break. The Senate adjourned Thursday and isn’t scheduled to return until Sept. 13.

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Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) wrote Democrats to remind them of the Wall Street reform bill that was passed in July, as well as ongoing efforts to cut taxes for small businesses and create a new energy plan. Democrats also passed a $26 billion state aid package on Wednesday to help states with climbing Medicaid costs and schoolteacher salaries.

“But every step of the way, Republicans proved they would rather kill jobs than create them,” Reid and Dorgan wrote. “Republicans have tried to block every piece of job-creating legislation that Democrats passed this session. They are nostalgic for a system that failed, so they’re once again rooting for failure.”

Reid and Dorgan suggest Democratic senators hold public events to highlight the party’s focus on middle-class families — “these could be conducted in local civic centers, restaurants, or even in a family’s living room” — or a roundtable discussion or job fair with small-business owners to spotlight the party’s efforts on their behalf.

The Democratic packet also reminds senators that Aug. 14 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act, “which provides an important opportunity for you to do an event with seniors to highlight this important program.”

The Republican packet, written by Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), urges members to argue for a “check and balance” against “overreaching” Democratic policies. Alexander also reminds GOP senators of a spending freeze proposal authored by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“Republicans understand that our nation's debt problem is not that we tax too little, but that we spend too much,” Alexander wrote.

The GOP packet also promotes the party’s efforts to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts by President George W. Bush instead of allowing them to expire as scheduled at the end of the year.

Alexander’s letter to Republicans defends the GOP’s energy record, saying that the party’s focus on nuclear power and research and development is superior to the Democratic agenda.

“We also understand that cleaning up the Gulf and ending Democrats' job-killing drilling moratorium must be a national priority,” Alexander said.

President Obama has imposed a moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf in the wake of the BP oil spill, although the administration has had mixed results enforcing it in court.

Before the Senate adjourned last week, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) told reporters that the Senate in September will take up the small-business bill, energy legislation and the extension of the tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 per year.

Reid on Thursday filed a cloture motion on the small-business bill, setting up procedural votes on Sept. 14.