If you thought politics couldn't get any crazier after the 2016 election, 2017 to you was probably like your argumentative uncle rolling in to Christmas dinner last-minute. But if you think 2018 will be any different, don't hold your breath. Here are the big political issues to keep an eye on in the new year.
President Trump's victory was hailed as a rejection of the Washington status quo by many of his supporters. But the "drain the swamp" movement took a hit this year after Republicans lost two gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and a traditionally safe Senate seat in Alabama.
Democrats hailed these elections as a reversal of Trump's politics, and while the victories do not change the Republican dominance in Congress and most governorships, Democrats seem to think they have found a chink in the GOP armor. They aim to leverage that momentum in the 2018 midterms, which will see 33 Senate seats and each House seat up for grabs.
Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race dropped the Republican majority to 51 seats for the upcoming session in January. Democrats hold 47 seats, and two independents caucus with them. There are several contested seats that the Democrats will be sure to target in the midterm, including Sen. Dean Heller's spot in Nevada and Sen. Jeff Flake's soon-to-be former spot in Arizona.
That said, the Democrats will also be playing defense while they seek to take back the majority. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is being challenged by the state's up-and-coming attorney general, Josh Hawley. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana is also going to have to fight hard for his seat against one of three potential Republican candidates. Both senators will be campaigning in states Trump won in 2016.
Retaking the House may prove more difficult, as the Democrats would need to take 24 seats from the GOP.
Of all Trump's campaign talking points, his promise to clamp down on illegal immigration was the most controversial -- and the most talked about. But major immigration reform legislation has yet to make any progress. The border wall has yet to be built, and Trump's attempt to limit immigration from several Muslim-majority countries was battled over in the courts for most of 2017.
The immigration debate is scheduled to begin in Congress as soon as members get back in January, with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) being the top issue. Democrats want to ensure "dreamers," those who were brought to the U.S. as children illegally, are given some kind of legal status after Trump rolled back Obama-era rules protecting them. Trump wants to secure funding for his wall and stricter immigration enforcement to combat cartels and gangs like MS-13. There has also been some talk of an overhaul to legal immigration that would prioritize immigrants with desired skills and English proficiency.
The GOP's failure to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2017 was one of the party's biggest legislative letdowns, but Republicans were able to secure a provision in the tax reform bill that removes the individual mandate requiring health insurance. Trump has equated this to a death sentence for the health care law, but Republicans will still have to offer up something to address rising health care costs.
Rebuilding America's decrepit bridges, roads and railways was one of Trump's campaign promises that had the highest potential for bipartisan support. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. infrastructure a dismal D+ in its 2017 report card, arguing that the government needs to close a $2 trillion 10-year investment gap in order to remain competitive.
Trump recently said he believes there is room for bipartisan support for several pieces of legislation in the upcoming year, especially regarding infrastructure. His administration reportedly will unveil a $1 trillion proposal to alleviate the problem in 2018.