Democrats were set to take over the US House of Representatives yesterday, ushering in a new era of divided government in Washington with the goal of checking Donald Trump's turbulent presidency.
Battle-tested Nancy Pelosi was poised to take over as speaker of the House for the second time in her career, as a partial federal government shutdown over Trump's insistence that lawmakers fund a US-Mexico border wall neared the two-week mark.
The end of Trump's one-party rule in Washington invigorated Democrats still dejected over the bombastic Republican's 2016 presidential win.
In excerpts of the speech she was to deliver to the House later yesterday, Pelosi vowed the new Congress would be "bipartisan and unifying" and "will debate and advance good ideas no matter where they come from."
"In that spirit, Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican appropriations legislation to re-open government later today -- to meet the needs of the American people, and to protect our borders," she said.
Incoming chairpersons have signaled that Trump will face a barrage of investigations that could bog down a White House already besieged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia collusion probe, draining energy from the administration's agenda and foiling Trump's message.
But while the "blue wave" swept dozens of House Republicans out of Congress last November, Trump's party managed to modestly expand its majority in the Senate to 53-47, meaning Washington gridlock is almost certain to deepen.
Among the first tasks of the 116th Congress will be ending the shutdown, which has left one quarter of federal agencies shuttered due to lapsed funding. Trump has said he would not sign a spending bill that does not include $5.6 billion for wall construction.
Pelosi has introduced new measures that would fund the agencies, but she noted that they "contain no new wall funding," a move the White House -- and Republican Senate leaders -- dismissed as a non-starter.
The House and Senate convene Thursday at noon (1700 GMT), with the new Congress sworn in shortly thereafter. Pelosi is expected to win her speaker election in the early afternoon.
She will preside over the most diverse Congress in history. One hundred House freshmen will take the oath of office. The first two Native American women and first two Muslim women were also elected.
The House and Senate will each have a record number of female members.
Hovering in the background in Washington will be the threat of impeachment, and it is almost certain that some Democrats will introduce proceedings to remove Trump from office.