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The Week Ahead: Crunch Time In The Capital

It's the last full week of business before the holidays. Here's RCP's Weekly Planner with what to watch in politics.

** This Week At The White House: On Monday, President Obama meets with representatives from the financial industry, "to discuss economic recovery, small business lending, improving lending practices for homeowners and the Administration's plans for financial reform," the White House says. The gathering comes after Obama bluntly criticized Wall Street executives in a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday night.

"The people on Wall Street still don't get it," Obama told Steve Kroft. "They're still puzzled, why is it that people are mad at the banks. Well, let's see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it's gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we've got ten percent unemployment. Why do you think people might be a little frustrated?"

The other main item on Obama's schedule this week is a trip back to Europe Thursday night, where he'll take part in the Copenhagen summit on climate change as it wraps up.

** This Week On Capitol Hill: The Senate had a busy weekend, working overtime to pass a $446 billion omnibus spending bill that includes six of the 12 annual appropriations bills that will fund the federal government in fiscal year 2010. The bill now heads to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it this week. Congress had already passed five appropriations bills, leaving only the Defense Appropriations bill, which the House is scheduled to take up this week.

The Senate went back to work on health care legislation on Sunday, and Democrats will push to complete a compromise this week. On "Face The Nation" yesterday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted the trouble Democrats are having coming to terms. "It's noteworthy that you had to have three Democrats on to explain the Democratic position," he said, referring to previous guests Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman. "In fact, there are more Democratic positions than you'd find in a stack of newspapers, and therein lies the problem."

Be sure to check out the RCP Video page for more highlights from the Sunday shows.

**This Week In Politics: There was a noteworthy milestone in Texas this weekend, as the nation's fourth-largest city elected a lesbian as mayor. Annise Parker won Saturday's runoff with just under 53 percent of the vote. "Parker's name identification and experience as a candidate and elected official were too much for the well-connected Gene Locke," the Houston Chronicle reported. Expect that to get some national focus, coming as it did in a red state and at a time when gay marriage efforts have stalled in several states.

Also worth watching this week: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) makes his first visit to New Hampshire as a potential 2012 candidate. He'll speak at a fundraiser in Concord for the state Senate Republican fundraising committee. Iowa has seen its share of Republican hopefuls in this very early going, but this is one of the first big forays in the home of the first-in-the-nation primary.

** Poll Watch
Obama Job Performance: Approve 48.6 / Disapprove 45.2
Congress Job Performance: Approve 28.8 / Disapprove 63.3
Generic Ballot Test: Republicans +0.8

** In Case You Missed It: Check out Sarah Palin's surprise appearance on "The Tonight Show," where she turned the tables on William Shatner by reading portions of his autobiography.

--Mike Memoli and Kyle Trygstad