Package will give most US households $300 to $1,200 apiece, plus an extra $300 per child.
Democratic congressional leaders hope to have a final deal by Jan. 28.
The economy and education are areas where lawmakers may break partisan gridlock.
The Federal Election Commission has vacancies in four of six seats and it hasn't acted on a new ethics law.
The tactic is a result of a 'press for presidential power,' some analysts say. But it's too early to tell whether the use of pro forma sessions will mean no more recess appointments by the president.