Congress returns: For what?

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Congress finally returns to D.C. this week after its long summer recess and is prepared to do what it does best: Absolutely nothing.

Members will visit Washington for just a couple of weeks before heading back to campaign full time for the November midterm elections. The only thing they really have to do is pass a continuing resolution to keep government open through past Oct. 1. And GOP leadership signaled in a memo that they will do exactly that, passing a clear CR that will eliminate any risk of a shutdown.

President Barack Obama's decision over the weekend to postpone any unilateral action on immigration reform means there will be no reason for Republicans to freak out and threaten to shut down the government.

And while immigration activists and much of the progressive movement slammed Obama's decision, it was a political no-brainer. There was never much of a chance that the administration would risk losing marginal Senate seats in Arkansas, Louisiana and elsewhere by allowing the GOP to turn the midterms into a roiling battle over what they undoubtedly would have called a lawless president king granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants.

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Democrats may lose some turnout among Latino and other progressive activist voters. But they stood to take a much bigger beating from increased turnout on the right if Obama acted before November. Democratic campaign operatives were generally thrilled that the White House took their advice and punted on immigration until the lame duck session later this year.

On other issues, there will be some noise on Capitol Hill but it will mostly signify nothing. Democratic senators led by Chuck Schumer of New York may unveil a proposal to fight corporate "inversion" transactions but the bill will likely go nowhere.

Schumer reportedly wants to pass legislation that would retroactively block inversions going back to 1994, something that is highly unlikely to get out of the Senate much less the GOP House.

Instead, Democrats seem intent on laying down a campaign marker on inversions, staking themselves out as the party steadfastly opposed to companies moving abroad for tax purposes and daring Republicans to block their approach.

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The GOP meanwhile seems fairly comfortable arguing that Democrats are grandstanding and that only comprehensive tax reform that eliminates the incentive for inversions in the first place would truly address the issue. They could also introduce their own less-sweeping inversion proposal that would not have a Schumer-style retroactivity portion, thus further inoculating themselves from political attacks.

Bottom line is that there won't be inversion legislation coming off the Hill anytime soon. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday again suggested that the administration would roll out unilateral tax code changes to address inversions "in the very near future" but even he acknowledged they would be quite limited in scope and no substitute for legislation.

Analysts suggest the White House may eventually put forward a proposal on inversions that will be mostly a political document. "We continue to believe that any executive action will be relatively symbolic and toothless," Chris Krueger of Guggenheim Securities wrote in a note to clients. "But the administration is not feeling any rush; quite the opposite as the delay and continued bluff creates a chilling/freezing environment in corporate board rooms where inversions were once contemplated."

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Much of the talk in Washington this week and next will focus on foreign affairs, including President Obama's approach to fighting ISIS in the Middle East. Obama has been all over the map on the issue in recent weeks and the White House plans to clean that up with a speech Wednesday in which the president plans to lay out his strategy for attacking ISIS through airstrikes and international coalition building rather than any U.S. boots on the ground.

The big question remains how to attack ISIS in Syria and any news from the speech will likely come from how the president addresses that politically complicated question. Back on Capitol Hill there will be some high-profile hearings, including a Banking Committee session on Tuesday featuring all the top regulators discussing the state of Wall Street reform.

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Some headlines could flow out of that hearing on recent rules on liquidity standards and the preliminary designation of MetLife as a "systemically significant" financial institution. But like much of the rest of what will take place on the Hill the next two weeks, the banking hearing will be a talkfest with little consequence.

Speaking of talkfests, you can meet this columnist live in D.C. this week. We are hosting a Politico Morning Money Breakfast Tuesday morning at the Mayflower with Blackstone President Tony James. Please come and join us!

—By Ben White. White is Politico's chief economic correspondent and a CNBC contributor. He also authors the daily tip sheet Politico Morning Money [politico.com/morningmoney]. Follow him on Twitter @morningmoneyben.