Immigration, Keystone Top First Day of Lame Duck

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Republicans controlling the House are divided over whether to fund the government for a couple of months past a December deadline to maintain leverage over President Obama on immigration or to pass a full-year spending bill to clear the decks for a fresh start when the GOP gets full control of Congress in January.

More pragmatic lawmakers like those who lead the Appropriations Committee are pressing hard for a so-called omnibus spending bill.

But many conservatives do not want to cede any power to Obama and Senate Democrats who will relinquish control of Congress next year.

Meanwhile, House Republicans moved toward a vote this week on long-stalled legislation to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline as a political gambit by endangered Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of GOP-dominated Louisiana appeared on its way to fruition.

Landrieu is an underdog to win a fourth term in a runoff next month with GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. The Keystone XL issue was an unexpected addition to a lame-duck agenda focused on keeping the government running past a Dec. 11 deadline.

Also Thursday, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio were formally selected Thursday to lead their party’s new majority control of Congress, and will be charged with guiding Republicans for the final two years of President Obama’s presidency.