US Congress reconvenes post election in lame-duck session

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WASHINGTON, Nov 14 (Reuters) - With a bitter election campaign finally over, the U.S. Congress will reconvene this week to try to set aside its partisan differences long enough to keep the government from closing.

As President-elect Donald Trump shapes his administration, Republicans are expected to move away from initial plans for compromise funding legislation and opt instead for a short-term measure to keep the government running into next year, when they will have control of Congress and the White House.

Washington has been operating since Oct. 1 under a temporary "continuing resolution" on the budget. It expires on Dec. 9. Lawmakers will be trying to approve a new one before then.

RELATED: See soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell through the years

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to supporters on his final campaign stop at the Warren County Regional Airport in Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, would ascend to majority leader if he holds his seat and Republicans take control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, smile after marking their ballots in the midterm election at the voting precinct at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The Kentucky Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could shift the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gets a campaign assist from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at the Warren County Regional Airport in Paul's hometown, Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, would ascend to majority leader if he holds his seat and Republicans take control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., casts his ballot in the midterm election at the voting precinct at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The Kentucky U.S. Senate race, with McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, facing a spirited challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has been among the most combative and closely watched contests that could shift the balance of power in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
On his final campaign stop Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gets a campaign assist from his wife, right, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., second from left, and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., far left, as they arrive at the Warren County Regional Airport in Sen. Paul's hometown, Bowling Green, Ky., Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, would ascend to majority leader if he holds his seat and Republicans take control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Mired in partisan gridlock, Congress in recent years has seldom completed the entire federal budget process, falling back frequently on stop-gap measures that last a few months.

During their "lame-duck" session starting this week, lawmakers will have little time to draft another continuing resolution to cover funding U.S. agencies and military operations. Congress is tentatively set to adjourn by Dec. 17 and has an additional break over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

A new Congress will meet in January, with the 100-seat Senate more closely split than before last week's elections. Neither party will have the 60 votes needed to move legislation easily through the chamber.

The voters last Tuesday also preserved the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, though it is slightly smaller, giving the Democrats more power to block the Republicans.

Legislation to streamline federal regulations for new drugs could come up during the lame duck session. So could funding for cancer research, precision medicine and treatments for opioid addiction, said congressional aides.

Some conservative House Republicans want a budget measure that will expire in March, which would coincide with needed action on the federal debt limit, according to House aides.

Others have talked about a continuing resolution that would run until sometime February, giving the new president and Congress enough time to determine their priorities for more comprehensive funding legislation for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

Before the election shifted the political center of gravity in favor of Republicans, Republican leaders had talked about crafting funding legislation through negotiations with Democrats and President Barack Obama and approving it before Christmas.

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