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President Trump’s State of the Union pledge to “extend an open hand” to both parties in pursuit of an ambitious policy agenda quickly came up against the reality of a largely gridlocked Congress and a Republican Party gripped by fear of a brutal midterm election cycle.

Republican senators and House members headed out of town Wednesday to their annual retreat uncertain over how to contend with another spending deadline, immigration deadlock, the year’s electoral challenges — and Trump himself, whose controversies have compounded their troubles.

Plans to address these issues were jarred Wednesday when an Amtrak train carrying lawmakers to the conference crashed into a truck near Crozet, Va., killing one person in the truck and injuring others.

But lawmakers pledged to press ahead on their retreat, boarding buses in Charlottesville toward the Greenbrier resort here — perhaps all too aware of how many difficult matters they intend to address over the coming days.

Trump’s optimism faces reality check in divided Congress and GOP

Republican lawmakers headed to a retreat Wednesday hoping to unify a fractured party around a policy agenda — and a strategy to retain control of Congress in November.


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