Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling's staff organized the three-day GOP retreat that begins today.
The Texas lawmaker said the events taking place in the House this week to reflect on the shooting and its aftermath represented a “thoughtful, important healing exercise” but that Republicans are prepared to get back to business next week.
“Next week will be next week,” Sessions said. “Our retreat was planned, it was scheduled. ... We will come back ready to thoughtfully address not only health care but moving forward an agenda that was well sold on the trail.”
Even Democrats are acknowledging the House must get back to its business.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said that “after this week” it would be appropriate for the House to return to work.
But security will still be on people’s minds.
Rep. John Kline, chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, said the retreat will also address the increased security concerns.
“We’re all affected by this and keenly aware of it. It will be a subject discussed at the retreat,” the Minnesota Republican said. “There will be briefings, as I understand, available for spouses and so forth.”
But Kline added, “We have the business that was already scheduled to do at the retreat.”
“We’ve got 87 new Members; we’ve got discussions with them, planning and strategy,” he said. “All of that stuff will go on at the retreat. I’m very confident that it will. This will just be an addition and probably, particularly the security briefings, an important addition.”
Rep. Bill Shuster said that while the shootings likely would be an informal topic of discussion, the closed-door policy sessions would be largely unaffected. The Pennsylvania Republican said he agreed with Speaker John Boehner’s assessment that it was important to try to disagree without being disagreeable.
“It’s not going to change our agenda,” Shuster said. “But yeah, I think it can change the approach. ... We can be passionate and debate, but we don’t have to be nasty and say things that may lower the level of discourse in this country.”
Still, Shuster stressed, “It doesn’t change the mandate.”
“We have to go forward with the message we heard from the American people, and I believe we heard it loud and clear,” he said.
Anna Palmer and Jessica Brady contributed to this report.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.