Trump win makes lame duck even lamer

Donald Trump’s election upset will likely shrink what was once poised to be a protracted post-election, lame-duck session of Congress, and that’s just fine with Democrats and Republicans.

Congressional Democrats, faced with a White House power shift and their own failure to recapture the House or Senate majorities, are feeling deflated and essentially sidelined in the fight over how to fund the remainder of the fiscal year. Democrats have also abandoned their push for Republicans to take up President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, now that the White House will by occupied by a Republican in January.

Without those two major fights, Congress has little to do between now and the end of the year.

Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to end the 114th session so they can get to work on the 115th Congress, which will give them control of both Congress and the White House for the first time in 15 years.

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The Senate was scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 17, but could complete business as soon as lawmakers pass a short-term spending bill that will fund the government until March, GOP aides suggested last week.

A current funding measure expires on Dec. 9, which GOP aides hinted could be the last day Congress is in session.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested last week lawmakers could make an early exit. “Our goal is to wrap up this lame-duck session as soon as possible,” McConnell said on Nov. 16.

Lawmakers are not in session during Thanksgiving week. They return on Nov. 29 and will likely begin working on a continuing resolution, or CR, to fund the government at 2016 levels until next March. Lawmakers in both parties appear ready to accept the short-term bill. But some GOP lawmakers said they would push for additional Pentagon spending they say is needed because 2016 funding levels are not adequate for keeping the military operating.

In addition to passing a spending measure, lawmakers will likely vote an energy and infrastructure bill and legislation authorizing federal spending on water projects, GOP aides said.

McConnell notably did not promise consideration of a bill authorizing 2017 defense spending that lawmakers had hoped to wrap up this year. But GOP aides said it was on the to-do list and could be considered.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are working on compromise legislation. “The conferees made significant progress this week on completing the bill,” House Armed Services Committee spokesman Claude Chafin told the Washington Examiner.

The 114th Congress could end on a cooperative note with President Obama. Republican lawmakers said they are interested in trying to pass a medical innovation bill that Obama supports.

McConnell last week said he is “particularly interested” in taking up the 21st Century Cures bill, which he noted, has the backing of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and enjoys “broad bipartisan support.”

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