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As a new Congress is sworn in, it has a lot on its plate

Posted at 7:54 PM, Dec 27, 2018

A new Congress is about to be sworn in. Democrats are taking over the House, and Republicans are adding to their majority in the Senate. They've already got a lot on their plate.

First, there's a pretty good chance we're going to enter this new session of Congress in the midst of a partial government shutdown. As of Thursday afternoon, President Trump and Democrats were standing their ground. They'll have to come to an agreement about border funding which could spill into another issue: immigration.

The president is asking for $5 billion to fund construction of a wall along the southern border. Some Democratic members are hoping likely-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will negotiate a deal exchanging border funding for those living in limbo under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and those under Temporary Protected Status. Now that Democrats have the House, many won't feel the need to give into the president's demands.

House Democrats are also planning to move quickly to take up gun reform. They plan to advance several bills within the first 100 days. Most notably, Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson plans to introduce a bipartisan bill mandating universal background checks on all gun sales. Some GOP House members have already voiced support. Still, the Republican Senate likely won't pass any high-profile gun control bills. But given the shootings in Pittsburgh, Parkland, Santa Fe and Thousand Oaks in 2018, Democrats feel public momentum is on their side.

Health care may be a place to find some common ground in 2019. Democrats and Republicans have said they're interested in looking at prescription drug prices. That's probably where the harmony will end. Republicans still want to gut the Affordable Care Act as Democrats look to bolster it.

Of course, there will be many investigations. Democrats will be looking into Russia, the Trump family and its finances, potential conflicts of interest, James Comey's firing and the dealings of many of Trump's associates, just to name a few.

There's lots to do in this new Congress, but with a divided government, there may not be room for each party to accomplish its goals.