KWAME HOLMAN: Even congressional leaders admit nothing motivates members to get their work done like the thought of a long recess.
REP. DAVID DREIER: Every single time the break is approaching, we have the ability, because of that time deadline, to finally bring disparate forces together for success.
KWAME HOLMAN: Knowing they would not return from their August break until after Labor Day, members of the House and Senate this week debated, compromised and turned out several major pieces of legislation, though not everyone was satisfied.
SPOKESMAN: There's a lot of things that aren't getting done.
KWAME HOLMAN: The House approved overwhelmingly a massive highway bill before adjourning this afternoon. The 1,000-page, $286 billion package sends lawmakers home bearing money for new roads and bridges and the jobs that come with them.
SPOKESPERSON: Transportation funding is a win-win for everyone involved.
KWAME HOLMAN: Late Wednesday night, house Republicans narrowly succeeded in passing CAFTA, a controversial pact increasing trade between the U.S. and five Central American nations, plus the Dominican Republic.
Democrats, nearly all of whom opposed CAFTA, charged Republicans secured the two-vote margin of victory only by using improper tactics.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: They were twisting arms, making deals, changing votes -- can you imagine...can you imagine going down there to change your vote? It's just...it's such a humiliation.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, over in the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pulled from the floor a defense bill packed with more than 200 amendments, including several that would standardize treatment of detainees held by the U.S.
SEN. BILL FRIST: I do look forward to coming back and looking at that bill and passing that bill -- that's a very important bill.
KWAME HOLMAN: In its place Frist put up the gun liability bill, drawing the outrage of some Democrats.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Why did we move to this bill and away from the Department of Defense bill to help our soldiers and their families?
KWAME HOLMAN: The Senate went on to pass the gun bill today, along with the highway and energy bills.
Republican Whip Mitch McConnell:
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL: As we enter into this break I think the American people can be reassured that much work is being accomplished on their behalf.
KWAME HOLMAN: Democrats had a different view.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: If you're a worker, to pass CAFTA, with no labor protections, you haven't gotten much. If you use electricity or you use gasoline, to pass this energy bill that doesn't lower their cost doesn't do very much.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Senate did not act on John Bolton's nomination to become ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats held it up because the White House refused to supply materials relating to Bolton's use of classified information while at the State Department.
Today, there were signals President Bush may use the August congressional break to give Bolton a recess appointment, lasting 16 months.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: The United Nations will be having their general assembly meeting in September, and it's important that we get our permanent representative in place.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts continued to meet with the senators who will decide his confirmation.
SPOKESMAN: I'd like to have an opportunity to get a chance to know him personally.
KWAME HOLMAN: Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination are expected to begin in early September.