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Congress, White House Reprise Familiar Tune

First lady Michelle Obama and President Obama with former President Bush and former first lady Laura Bush after  Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.

A two-term president enters his lame-duck year feuding with a Congress controlled by the opposition party. The majority party in the House complains the Senate's filibuster rules thwart the will of the people. Both sides of the aisle are disappointed a year-end omnibus bill doesn't do justice to their legislative goals. And conflict in the Middle East creeps into political discourse at every turn.  

December 2015? Nope. Rewind eight years, to 2007, when dynamics were remarkably the same, even if most of the people and party identifications were different. Back then, President George W. Bush was finishing up his seventh year in office. But it was the first year he had to face Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress. It was a conflict-driven year, with Bush wielding his veto pen multiple times and beating back Democrats' attempts to put conditions on funding for the war in Iraq, a campaign promise they rode to majorities in 2006.  

Paul Ryan Talks Up Return to Regular Order

Ryan is pushing hard for a return to regular order on legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has vowed that in 2016 there will be a return to regular order in the appropriations process, and he said he has received support from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that will make it easier for him to honor that.  

"I think [Reid] too wants to get us back to regular order and that’s why he’s impressed upon me his goal to not block bills coming up to the Senate," Ryan said at a news conference Wednesday. "Now whether they filibuster a bill coming off the floor because of some rider, I can’t speak to that.”  

Congress Eyes Friday to Get Out of Town

Ryan has set up final votes of the year on Thursday and Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republican leaders are setting up votes Thursday and Friday on their year-end legislative business, hoping to smooth the process and close out 2015 by Friday afternoon.  

Speaker Paul D. Ryan confirmed the House will vote Thursday on legislation to extend expired tax breaks and Friday on the $1.1 trillion compromise omnibus appropriations bill.