This week, Congress returns from its two-week hiatus to tackle the HIV/AIDS, Tuberulosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act in the House, as well as housing legislation and HR3221 in the Senate (the latter which deals with programs related to energy independence, carbon emissions, and green jobs). In the House, Republicans and Blue-Dog Democrats may try and force a vote on the SAVE Act, which would beef up border patrol with 8,000 new guards, and require all employers to opt into the federal E-Verify system. Before departing for spring break, Republicans had gathered 181 of the 217 signatures necessary to bring the measure to a vote (which would force an uncomfortable election-season showdown that reportedly, McCain has made quiet efforts to discourage).

With Gen. David Petraeus returning to the Hill next week to deliver a Senate report detailing affairs in Iraq since the surge, Democrats and Republicans will also spend much of the week preparing for the upcoming Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee hearings. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) will hold hearings on the cost and long-term outlook for U.S. involvement in Iraq; given the deteriorating state of the economy, expect House and Senate Democratic leadership to try and emphasize the war’s costs at home.

Meanwhile this morning, as he departed for a NATO summit in Europe, President Bush said lawmakers have a “lot of work to do,” and urged Congressional effort on what he called “vital priorities,” incuding passing FISA reform legislation, modernizing the Federal Housing Administration, and approving a free-trade agreement with Colombia.