Democrats, still riding high from their election sweep, were celebrating successes with House completion of their "100 hour" legislative blitz and Senate passage of major ethics and lobbying reform.
From now, however, running Congress with small majorities and a Republican in the White House becomes a little harder.
House Democrats, eager to get going after 12 years in the minority, wrapped up their two-week, must-do agenda Thursday by voting to recoup billions of dollars in lost royalties from oil and gas companies and roll back some industry tax breaks.
The bill, passed 264-163, also sets a conservation fee on oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico.
Also finished in the "100 hour" stretch, which took 87 hours in real legislative time, were bills to raise the federal minimum wage, implement port security measures and other recommendations of the 9/11 commission, expand embryonic stem cell research, give Medicare authority to negotiate lower prescription drug costs and cut interest rates on student loans.
"Today, Democrats stood united to say that we have kept our promise to the American people," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
In the Senate, where the will of the minority must be heeded and the pace is far slower, lawmakers voted 96-2 for a far-reaching ethics and lobbying bill that will end the practices of lobbyists giving gifts and travel to senators and require lobbyists to be more open about their activities while making senators more accountable for the pet projects they sneak into bills.
It was the first major piece of legislation in the new Democratic-controlled Senate. It almost died Wednesday when Republicans balked at Democratic refusal to give them a vote on a proposal allowing the president, with congressional approval, to cherrypick for elimination specific spending items in bills.
The impasse was broken only when Democrats agreed that the modified line-item veto proposal can be introduced when the Senate takes up its minimum wage bill on Monday.
On Friday the House is considering a bill to better protect teenage pages. The scandal involving salacious electronic messages sent by former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Florida, to former pages gave impetus to the Democratic campaign to clean up the "culture of corruption" in Washington.
As smooth as the first two weeks went for House Democrats, the labors of legislation are certain to become more difficult in the future.
In the coming weeks, there are certain to be confrontations with the White House over resolutions critical of President Bush's policies in Iraq. Democrats, committed to holding the line on spending while determined to bolster money for health and education, must grapple with the budget proposals the White House will deliver to Congress.
The only veto of the Bush presidency was over an embryonic stem cell bill, and he has promised to repeat that if another stem cell bill hits his desk. The prescription drug bill could also face a presidential veto.
It's uncertain whether some of the other House-passed bills will ever get that far.
Senate Republicans insisted that a minimum wage hike must be linked to an $8.3 billion package of tax breaks for small businesses. Senate Democrats are amenable, but it is unclear if House Democrats will go along.
The Senate is also looking at an education bill that goes beyond the interest-rate cuts in the House bill, complicating a compromise.
If the partisan friction were not enough, both parties face internal conflicts as well.
Several House and Senate Republicans have objected to Bush's troop boosting plan for Iraq. Two Republican senators -- Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine -- have signed on to a nonbinding resolution opposing the insertion of 21,500 new troops into the war.
Democrats are divided themselves, unable to agree on how to express their opposition to Bush. Some prefer a nonbinding resolution, while others in the House and Senate want more muscular legislation specifically limiting Bush's ability to act on his strategy.