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Acutely partisan and all but dysfunctional, Congress has completed its most elementary task after an intense weeks-long struggle, finalizing a deal to fund the government just days ahead of a shutdown deadline.

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In this wild presidential year, it can feel like nothing is happening but Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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Congress averted a government shutdown Wednesday as the Senate and then the House approved a short-term spending bill, allowing lawmakers to avoid a crisis and return home to campaign.

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The Senate on Tuesday stumbled over a must-do bill to prevent the government from shutting down this weekend and to fund the fight against the Zika virus. Democrats, demanding money so Flint, Michigan, can address its lead-contaminated water crisis, overwhelmingly opposed the measure, as did a dozen of the Senate’s most conservative members.

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Maybe it was the unexpected warmth of the gesture, the sheer enveloping display of affection.

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A majority of Americans continue to believe that political leaders in Washington should compromise in order to get things done, while less than half as many say leaders should stick to their beliefs even if little gets done. These attitudes are particularly relevant to the current situation in Washington, where Senate and House members face a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a stopgap budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

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The twinned letters on the Capitol’s collective lips this month are C and R. Together they stand for “continuing resolution,” the colloquial name for legislation that keeps money flowing to federal programs whose regular spending bills are unfinished.

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Lawmakers are still negotiating a short-term government funding bill hours ahead of an initial vote.

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A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics. Then the election, Donald J. Trump’s demand for “law and order” and a series of other political calculations got in the way.

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Americans blame political gridlock in Washington for the country’s declining economic competitiveness and hold both Democrats and Republicans responsible, a Harvard Business School study released on Wednesday found.

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With just over two weeks to go until lawmakers leave for the campaign trail, the Senate has yet to reach a deal on coming up with funding for the Zika crisis or legislation to keep the government open.

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While Democrats and Republicans running for Congress have blamed the opposing party for the gridlock in Washington, a majority of voters (55 percent) said both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are equally to blame for the stalemate, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.

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