Congress Averts a Shutdown But Now Faces a Messy 2018 Start

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The Republican-controlled Congress managed the bare minimum task of keeping the government open before the holiday recess, yet made little progress on a medley of divisive fiscal and social issues it will now be forced to confront in January.

Among these are resolving a long-running dispute over defense spending levels; raising the nation’s debt ceiling, which came back into force this month; and dealing with the looming deportations of undocumented immigrants, known as dreamers, who arrived in the U.S. as children.

All the unfinished business could impede President Donald Trump’s ability to rack up more legislative victories, including a large-scale infrastructure bill, before the 2018 midterm elections.

“At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a Bipartisan fashion. Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start,” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Lawmakers have a limited amount of time until they turn their focus to campaigning for re-election. “We need to get the leftovers done,” said Ryan Costello, a Pennsylvania Republican. “Until we deal with Groundhog Day, we can’t move on to our agenda.”

Leaders were able to corral rank-and-file lawmakers to vote for a bare-bones funding patchwork, and the government now has enough money to operate through Jan. 19.

Patience Thin

Patience, however, is running thin among both Democrats and Republicans, so the votes may not be there to keep delaying final spending measures for the current fiscal year.

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