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Democrats will hold final strategy session with Obama before hitting the trail

Congressional leaders will meet with the president Thursday for a backyard conversation that is expected to address the fate of tax cuts.

September 29, 2010|Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Democratic congressional leaders will hold a final strategy session with President Obama on Thursday, as members prepare to leave town for full-time campaigning to protect their endangered majority.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are among those expected at the White House meeting. Among the topics is expected to be the fate of tax cuts, left unaddressed in the most recent session.

"They'll talk about a wide variety of issues and what we ought to do going forward," deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday, en route to Virginia for the president's final backyard conversation this week.

House Republicans have strongly criticized Democrats for choosing not to hold a vote on the Bush-era tax cuts due to expire at year's end.

"A vote to adjourn this Congress without an up-or-down vote to stop all the tax hikes is a vote to raise taxes and destroy more jobs," Minority Leader John Boehner said in a statement.

The House ultimately did vote to adjourn, but the motion passed by the slimmest of margins — one vote. Thirty-nine Democrats, many of them facing tough reelection battles, join 170 Republicans in voting not to adjourn.

Burton defended the president's party in Congress, saying "nobody can argue that this was one of the most productive legislative sessions that Congress has ever seen." He said the tax cuts would ultimately be dealt with after the elections, but that a more urgent consideration was passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government running.

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