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Congress

Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., announced he will not seek re-election Wednesday, adding to a record number of House Republicans heading for the exits ahead of the 2018 midterms — perhaps seeing the writing on the wall of a possible wave election for Democrats.

There are now 31 Republicans who will not seek re-election in November: 19 who are retiring outright and another 12 who are running for higher office. And that list is is expected to grow in the coming weeks.

It may be a new year, but Congress plans to spend most of January wrapping up old business left over from 2017.

Congressional leaders are promising to head off any chance of a government shutdown well before the Jan. 19 deadline, but a nearly yearlong fight over President Trump's demands to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could threaten those plans.

Updated at 6:18 p.m. ET

The longest-serving Republican senator in American history is finally ready to call it quits.

Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch announced on Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in 2018 and will leave the Senate at the end of his current term, after 42 years in his seat.

Mary Anne Williams

State residents whose homes have crumbling foundations are among those who'll be out of luck under the new federal tax overhaul.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants 2018 to be a year of bipartisanship, even if that means moving on from GOP dreams of cutting welfare and fully rolling back the Affordable Care Act.

The Kentucky Republican on Thursday broke with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on the approach to paring back spending on programs like Medicaid and food stamps. In an interview with NPR, McConnell said he is "not interested" in using Senate budget rules to allow Republicans to cut entitlements without consultation with Democrats.

Updated at 7:14 p.m. ET

After a monumental legislative victory on taxes this week, Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to avoid a chaotic government shutdown that could overshadow their signature tax bill before it even gets signed into law.

Chris Potter / Flickr

When you file your 2018 income taxes, you might notice that the standard deduction has essentially doubled. Exemptions will likely be eliminated and in its place, you might see a larger tax credit per dependent claimed. But it also raises at least one other big question: will you give as much to charity?

Updated on Dec. 22 on 12:02 p.m. ET

Congressional Republicans delivered on their first major legislative accomplishment of the Trump era on Wednesday, when the House voted 224-201 to pass a $1.5 trillion tax package. The bill cuts individual rates for eight years and slashes the top corporate tax rate to 21 percent permanently.

Ron Cogswell / Creative Commons

The U.S. Senate passed a GOP-sponsored tax bill on Tuesday evening, after the House of Representatives did the same earlier in the day.

President Trump has formally told NASA to send U.S. astronauts back to the moon.

"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," he said.

Standing at the president's side as he signed "Space Policy Directive 1" on Monday was Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, one of the last two humans to ever walk on the moon, in a mission that took place 45 years ago this week.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., deciding to resign from the Senate on Thursday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct now sets off a chain of events that could give Republicans an unexpected target in 2018.

Here's a look at how it would all play out:

What would happen right away?

Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., plans to announce his resignation on Thursday, a Democratic official tells Minnesota Public Radio. The official spoke to Franken and key aides, MPR News reports.

Franken's office, however, says that "no final decision has been made."

ccPixs.com, Flickr creative commons

In a move that signals a shift in the health care market, CVS/Health announced a $69 billion deal to buy Aetna - the third largest insurer in the nation. This would be one of the biggest health care deals of all time, and would leave Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini with a sweet $500 million payout.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informing them of his decision to step down from Congress as of Tuesday, amid allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by multiple women.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

WNPR’s Jeff Cohen and Ryan Caron King are back on the ground in Puerto Rico.

This hour: an update from The Island Next Door. We get the latest on local recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 

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