House Democrats spent last week defending their signature domestic policy initiative-the health care reform law.

But that will not be a hot topic at the Democrats’ “issues retreat,” held this weekend in Maryland, even as the new Republican majority continues an offensive against the measure.

Rep. John Larson, Connecticut’s 1st District congressman and the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said he and his colleagues will spent the next few days focusing on the economy, the federal budget, and “messaging” for their coming year in the minority.

Republicans had their retreat last weekend, which was largely eclipsed by the Arizona shooting rampage that killed six people and injured more than a dozen others, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Larson said the Tucson tragedy will be a focus for Democrats too. President Barack Obama will address the House Democratic meeting, and Larson said he expects Obama to “talk about coming together as a family” after that horrible event.

Vice President Joseph Biden will give Democrats an update on Afghanistan and other foreign policy issues. Aside from those marquee speakers, Larson said the main event would be crafting a job-focused agenda for the coming year.

He shrugged off questions about how House Democrats will be able to communicate any new message, since they no longer hold the reins of power.

“We don’t have the votes to stop what they want to do,” Larson said of the new Republican majority.  “But we can make the points–and make them with great clarity.”

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