Even with Republicans at the helm of both congressional houses, many of President Donald Trump's declared priorities eluded him in his first two years.
Now the election of a Democratic-controlled House signals dimmer chances for Trump to chalk up legislative wins.
One example: Partial NAFTA changes, negotiated by Trump's trade representatives with Mexico and Canada, that need congressional approval to take effect.
“Trump made it seem like this was a done deal, but there is a long, long way to go,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who's expected to hold a relevant committee post come January, told The New York Times.
Since the White House changed hands, elected Republicans have failed to reach internal agreement on how to proceed on health care. Obamacare remains largely in place despite years of GOP resistance.
Exit polls showed health care to be a major voter concern in the recent midterm elections. House Democrats are expected to dig in on shoring up the current system or even hold out for some version of Medicare for all.
Last week, Politico reported that members of Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's conference might intervene against a lawsuit from conservative states that could eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
Immigration reform looks problematic too.
Amid the president's dire warnings of criminal and terrorist invasion from Central America via Mexico, no clear agreement within the GOP was ever reached on a comprehensive bill.
Democrats in both houses generally agree on shielding from deportation young immigrants brought here illegally as children. Since Senate Republicans kept their majority and are likely to expand it slightly, new cross-partisan negotiations on that issue are possible.
The departing House leadership also could use its final weeks in power to finally allocate major funding to Trump's southern border wall.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had promised a "big fight" over border money and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened a shutdown to help Trump "get what he's looking for," according to The Associated Press.
But through 2017 and 2018, they gently deflected the wall proposal. And now the incoming Democrats voice harsh opposition, calling such a project a waste of time and money.
Still, there is talk of bipartisan deals. For some time Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) agreed on a reduction in minimum sentences on certain drug crimes imposed decades ago.
Big compromises on this and other subjects could be struck with the president letting other players fill in key details — as occurred with the sweeping tax bill.
That marked a Trump victory by way of assent. Similarly, a number of deregulatory moves came to fruition because Republican lawmakers and their supporters finally had a GOP president who would sign off on them.
A broader question is whether the newly elected House proves as resistant to White House proposals as it did with President Barack Obama. If so, the next two years could prove less than productive from Trump's side.