Congress returns to fight over jobs, budget cuts

By ANDREW TAYLOR | September 7, 2011 | 3:05 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fights large and small await Congress as it gets back to business, with jobs and budget cuts topping a contentious agenda that also includes a lengthy roster of lower-profile but essential items.

President Barack Obama is to unveil his jobs agenda in a nationally televised address Thursday night, but early glimpses of the package show it relies heavily on extending expiring programs like a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

Also this week, a bipartisan deficit-reduction panel will hold its first meeting amid mixed expectations that it can be successful in a highly partisan climate.

In the short term, there's a need for legislation required to simply keep the government running past Sept. 30, including a stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown.