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House GOP in no rush to return

Notice anything interesting about the U.S. House? It's empty.
Notice anything interesting about the U.S. House? It's empty.

President Obama has cut short his vacation plans and will leave Hawaii tonight in order to return to Washington. The point, obviously, is to participate in more fiscal talks in the hopes of avoiding looming deadlines, just five days away.

But just because Obama is heading back to DC doesn't mean Congress is prepared to do the same.

According to House Republican leadership aides, House GOP leaders have not yet called their members back to Washington D.C., and WILL NOT be in session tomorrow for legislative business. According to one GOP aide, "It's up to Senate Democrats to act right now."

During the House Republican conference meeting late Thursday night, leadership told the conference that they would be given 48 hours before being called back to D.C. after Christmas. According to aides, leadership has not given that notice yet.

Look, it's Wednesday. The last conceivable day to reach some kind of resolution is Monday. If House GOP leaders intend to give the caucus 48-hour notice, that leaves a very small-and-shrinking window. Even if the White House and Congress were to work something out tomorrow -- that's extremely unlikely, but just for the sake of conversation -- the soonest the House would even consider voting would be Saturday.

As for this notion that it's "up to Senate Democrats to act," I've been hearing this a lot today and it seems more and more peculiar every time. Senate Democrats can pass a perfectly sensible package tomorrow, filled with popular proposals that enjoy broad support from the American mainstream, and which would earn the president's signature. But if it can't overcome a GOP filibuster and pass the right-wing House, it won't matter -- and Senate Democrats aren't in a position to accurately guess what Republicans might find tolerable.

In other words, it's not really up to Senate Democrats to act. Maybe if they showed up in town, ready to work, someone could explain this to them.