A white tulip is nestled between red tulips in front of the U.S. Capitol. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Lawmakers begin returning to Washington Monday after a two-week Easter recess, and the goal of Republicans and Democrats controlling the House and Senate remains the same: Do no political harm, or at least do nothing to cause serious shifts in the political winds that could upset the status quo before Election Day.

Fewer than 200 days remain until Nov. 4, when Republicans are expected to maintain and expand their majority in the House. Democrats are fighting to maintain their narrow majority in the Senate. Congress will convene for about 60 days in the next six months as all members of the House and 36 senators continue campaigning. In the next five weeks, the House will meet for just 15 days with a week-long Mother’s Day break in between. The Senate plans to work four consecutive weeks before spending a week at home for Memorial Day.

In the interim, talks continue on raising the minimum wage, repealing or changing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling the nation’s tax code and writing dozens of spending bills to fund the government in the next fiscal year. Lawmakers in both parties want to enact tougher sanctions against Russia, due to the destabilization in eastern Ukraine. And attention will focus on the recent troubles of Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who is expected to be indicted this week on campaign finance or tax charges, and Vance McAllister (R-La.), who hasn't been seen in Washington since video revealed him kissing a woman who is not his wife.

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