AP Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON – A bitterly divided Congress adjourned Thursday for the election, having accomplished little more than the bare minimum, with lawmakers looking ahead to a lame-duck session and a weighty to-do list already piling up for next year.

A must-pass spending bill, agreed to after an unnecessarily protracted struggle and repeated rounds of partisan finger-pointing, extends government funding until Dec. 9 and addresses the Zika crisis with $1.1 billion months after President Obama initially requested federal aid. Lawmakers advanced spending for flood victims in Louisiana and a compromise to help victims of lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan.

Obama swiftly signed the spending bill into law.

When they return to Washington after the election, lawmakers will have to complete the annual appropriations process. Only one of the 12 must-pass annual spending bills has been completed.

Next year is likely to herald still more divisions. Even if Republicans hold the House as expected, manage to win the White House with Donald Trump and hang onto their fragile Senate majority, minority Democrats would still exercise significant power in the Senate. Republican control would be incomplete under the most optimistic scenarios for the GOP.

If Democrats win the White House or the Senate, it would usher in another era of divided government, perhaps even more fraught.

At the same time, Congress and the next president, whether Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, will confront a series of daunting tasks pushed off into 2017.

Perhaps most monumental, the debt limit will need to be raised by around midsummer, something that has provoked intense battles in recent years.

Lawmakers will need to revisit major programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program under Medicaid, along with payments to hospitals and community health centers and expiring tax credits in industry. There’s also the annual budgeting process, a perennially tricky defense policy bill, reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and a Supreme Court vacancy to fill.

Whichever party controls the Senate, the majority is likely to be razor-thin and senators will focus immediately on the 2018 election, when Democrats will be defending tough seats in GOP-leaning states.

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