Lawmakers on recess with two weeks until spending cuts

By WEEK Producer

February 18, 2013 Updated Feb 18, 2013 at 10:52 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Looking around the Capitol on this President's Day holiday you wouldn't guess lawmakers have less than two weeks to avoid $85 billion in automatic spending cuts.

The streets are bare, there is little foot traffic and the doors to Congressional offices are locked.

"It is quite concerning that they are not here," said tourist Julie Johnson.

Voters are not happy lawmakers are spending the entire week in their districts. They will return with just four days to agree on an alternative plan to cut the nation's debt.

Strategists on both sides say lawmakers are working toward a deal, even while they are away.

Lawmakers are also considering steps toward gun control and immigration reform.

A bipartisan group of senators is drafting a plan to tighten border security and create a path toward citizenship, but over the weekend the White House leaked a controversial back-up the president will push if lawmakers fail.

Also in limbo is Senator Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Defense Secretary. Republicans blocked a vote last week. Now the GOP is indicating they will allow a vote next week when lawmakers get back from recess.

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