From rising rhetoric between the president and top Republicans over the economy to a marquee Senate campaign showdown, politics are heating up in the summer sun and could boil over in the week ahead.
1. Economic tug of war
With budget showdowns looming, President Barack Obama continues to try to take his case directly to the American people.
The president travels to an Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Tuesday and will again speak on the economy, which remains the top issue on the minds of Americans. The White House touts the address as the first in a series of policy speeches on Obama's "better bargain for the middle class."
"Tuesday's speech will focus on manufacturing and high-wage jobs for durable economic growth, and the president will discuss proposals he has laid out to jump-start private-sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
The Chattanooga address follows similar speeches last week where the president's tone was sharper and more partisan than many had expected.
"If the Republicans don't agree with me, I want them to lay out their ideas. If they have got a better plan to create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, to make sure that they have great ports all along the Gulf, come on, let me know what your ideas are," the president said Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida.
Congressional Republican leaders are pushing right back at the president -- with deadlines to continue funding the federal government and raising the nation's debt ceiling as well the date for implementing a crucial part of Obamacare on the horizon.
"Look, this president is a terrific campaigner. We all recognize that. He has got a way with words, too. But at some point campaign season has to end and the `working with others' season has to begin," Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.
"His speech turned out to be all sizzle and no steak, that's assuming there's any sizzle left after you've reheated this thing so many times," House Speaker John Boehner chimed in later.
With one week left before the congressional summer recess, both Democrats and Republicans will ramp up the rhetoric over the strong possibility of a government shutdown in the autumn. Both sides are pointing fingers in a heated blame game, and the fight will continue into the August recess as the action moves to lawmakers' home states and districts.
2. Marquee Senate showdown begins
What could ultimately be the most expensive and bitter Senate battle in the 2014 midterm elections formally begins Tuesday when Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes kicks off her Democratic challenge to McConnell, who's running for a sixth term in the Senate.
In a preview of how nasty things could get, Grimes blames McConnell for greatly contributing to the gridlock in Washington, saying in a video previewing her rollout that the Senate Republican leader is "the biggest part of the problem. He's wasted decades blocking legislation that would have helped Kentucky and our country. And over the last few years he's done it for the worst possible reason -- out of spite."
Even before announcing her candidacy this month, Grimes had already come under attack, both by an Internet ad put out by the McConnell campaign that poked fun at the amount of time she was taking to make a decision, and by a pro-McConnell independent group that went up with an ad that called her "Obama's cheerleader in Kentucky."
McConnell is known for taking the fight to his political opponents, and he quickly welcomed Grimes to the race by linking her to the president, who is unpopular in Kentucky, a red state in presidential elections.
"Accepting the invitation from countless Washington liberals to become President Obama's Kentucky candidate was a courageous decision by Alison Lundergan Grimes, and I look forward to a respectful exchange of ideas," McConnell said in a statement this month.
In her video, Grimes fired back, saying, "I don't scare easy."
Next weekend both Grimes and McConnell will attend the annual Fancy Farm picnic in the rural western tip of Kentucky. The picnic is famous as a traditional political gathering that attracts statewide candidates.
Also expected to attend that gathering is Matt Bevins, a Kentucky businessman who a few days ago formally launched a conservative primary challenge to McConnell, adding more political fire to an already combustible race.
3. House GOP to make another statement
Pegged to the scandal involving Internal Revenue Service targeting some political groups for special scrutiny, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will vote on a series of bills in the week ahead to curb the power of the IRS and other federal agencies.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor packaged 10 measures for floor votes and dubbed the final week before a monthlong summer recess as "Stop Government Abuse" week.
In addition to the IRS, another chief target of the Republican legislative push is Obamacare, which the House GOP has continually tried to roll back.
One bill sponsored by Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, would prohibit the IRS from implementing any provisions of the health care law. Since the IRS is the agency that would enforce the mandate that individuals must carry health insurance, this legislation essentially hamstrings the program. This bill is the latest in a string of more than three dozen times House Republicans have tried to repeal entirely or change parts of the health care law.