Congress returned to work yesterday after a 12-day recess and will stay at except for a long Memorial Day weekend until the Fourth of July, when it will take off 2 1/2 weeks for the Republican National Convention. Then it will do the same in August for the Democrats.

The big issue facing House and Senate is the first budget resolution which is supposed to be adopted by May 15, a process that will be made even more difficult than usual this year by the apparent determination to cut spending to achieve the first balanced budget in 12 years. The Senate had planned to start off with the budget resolution yesterday but Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) evidently decided there was need for more consensus and took up instead the trucking deregulation bill.

In the House, the Rules Committee has not yet acted on a rule spelling out what amendments may be offered to the budget resolution. House action is not expected until next week at least. Today the House is scheduled to take up a bill creating a wilderness area of more than 2 million acres in Idaho.Later in the week, if sponsors can obtain the votes to pass it, the House may take up a House-Senate conference report restoring $1.5 billion cut by the House from a bill authorizing additional U.S. contributions to three international development banks.