But Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, would love to get more than just the bare minimum done to set the stage for President Trump in January.
Here are six things on Congress's (arguably optimistic) to-do list between now and then:
1) Make sure the government doesn't shut down
Congress hasn't approved an actual spending bill in years; every time they get close to a deal, it dissolves, and to avoid a government shutdown, they end up passing a short-term spending bill that keeps funding levels from years past.
That's exactly what we're expecting to go down this month, when a short-term spending bill they passed before the election runs out Dec. 9. All indications are Congress will simply extend that bill to about March, when it becomes Trump's problem. (Apparently the Trump team requested this set-up.)
But for the Trump administration, there are pros and cons to pushing off a budget deal until spring, which we'll quickly run through here.
Pro: It will allow Trump to weigh in on the first budget of his presidency.
Con: It's not clear Congress can pass a full budget. Budgets are a tricky thing to get done these days, thanks in part to a hard-line Republican conference that opposes significant spending and a sizable Democratic minority that opposes significant spending cuts.
That means a short-term budget passed in December could set the stage for drama in March, the most extreme outcome being a potential government shutdown. (We'll know more about the likelihood of that the closer we get to March).
One more con: Having a big budget debate in March will test Congress's ability to multitask. The Senate could still be debating Trump's Cabinet (and Supreme Court!) nominees in the spring.
"We’ve got a lot of appointments to fill. The Senate’s going to be very, very busy," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned recently.
2) Everything else
Honestly, making sure the government doesn't shut down is the only big must-do on Congress's to-do list.
"Everything else is just a 'nice-to-have,' " says budget expert Stan Collender.
But Republicans, who will control both chambers of Congress for the next two years, would love to clear the decks so they can start 2017 by working with Trump on their shared priorities (like, say, repealing Obamacare). Their get-ready-for-Trump-to-do list mostly includes bipartisan-approved bills, since they'll need Democrats to help them pass most of these:
2a) Approve money to fight the opioid crisis: This week, the House of Representatives is considering a big medical research bill that would also include money to fight the opioid crisis. The stars are aligning to get this passed: The medical research package is a priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). And the bill also includes money to fund President Obama's and Vice President Biden's "moonshot" to try to cure cancer, which means this could be one of the final bills Obama signs.
2b) Pass a defense policy bill: This sounds boring for anyone who's not a defense wonk or an investor in Boeing, but this bill — which has no money attached to it until Congress figures out how to pass a full budget — could set wide-ranging policy, like whether women are required to sign up for the draft (so far, it looks like that's a no) and whether religious organizations that work with the military must have LGBT and gender-orientation protections in place.
(Obama signed an executive order in 2015 requiring all federal contractors to have LGBT protections; Republicans in Congress want to make an exception for religious organizations.)
The House is expected to vote on this bill Friday.
2c) Approve aid for the Flint water crisis: Congress has yet to agree on how big of a check to write to the city of Flint, Mich. The town's water was poisoned by corrosive lead pipes almost three years ago and its mayor says the city still needs to replace up to 20,000 pipes before the tap water is fully potable again. Democrats are the ones beating the drum to get this item done.
2d) Aid to fight Zika: Congress also agrees it needs to figure out a way to pay for research and prevention of the spread of the Zika virus, which is at risk of spreading in the contiguous U.S. (As of Nov. 23, there were 182 confirmed cases from local mosquitoes — all in Florida — according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.)
But despite spending most of the summer bickering over this, Congress has yet to settle on how much money to approve. The Obama administration had asked for $2 billion; earlier this year, Congress came to a tentative agreement of $1 billion before negotiations collapsed.
2e) Up Iran sanctions: Obama's Iran nuclear deal isn't dead (yet). And it's unclear where tearing it up is on Trump's to-do list. But even if he keeps the Iran deal, a Republican-controlled Congress and Republican-controlled White House could give Trump more opportunities to slap sanctions on Iran for violating it. If they have time, Politico reports that the Senate could start that process this month by voting on an Iran sanctions bill.