Lawmakers are bracing for chaos in December as they plunge into several high-stakes legislative fights.

Both chambers are expected to be in session for roughly 15 days before leaving town until January, but the looming battles could push their exit date closer to Christmas.

Republicans want to get a key agenda item, tax reform, to President Trump’s desk by the end of the year.

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That would be a daunting task even under the best of circumstances — but Republicans are also facing a Dec. 8 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, with fights over immigration and health care also crowding the agenda.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort GOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi MORE (R-S.C.) said the deadlines could be just what Republicans need to get things accomplished.

“I think that’s maybe the only way we can get it done,” he told The Hill. “We’re the ultimate do-your-homework-at-the-last-minute crowd.” 

Here’s what to watch for as Congress prepares for an end-of-the-year sprint.

Tax reform 

Senate Republicans are rushing to pass their tax plan this week after it was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee along party lines.

They have a narrow path to getting the bill through the Senate. With 52 seats, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet MORE (R-Ky.) can only afford to lose two GOP senators, if every member of the Democratic caucus votes no; Vice President Pence could break a tie. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Republicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years MORE (Wis.) became the first Republican senator to say he couldn’t currently support the House or Senate bills, arguing they don’t do enough to help “pass-through” businesses, or those taxed at the individual rate instead of the corporate rate.

Meanwhile, several GOP senators have raised concerns about the impact the tax plan could have on the deficit. The Senate plan can add up to $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

If the Senate is able to pass its own bill this week, Republicans will still need to work out a deal in conference committee and pass the final legislation.

Finding a deal won’t be easy, as the House and Senate bills differ in significant ways.

The House bill, for example, would scale back the state and local tax deduction, while the Senate bill would end it entirely. 

Time is of the essence, with a special election in Alabama on Dec. 12 that could leave Senate Republicans with only a one-seat majority.

Health care

Tied closely to the tax plan is a renewed fight over health care.

The Senate GOP plan would repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

But GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE (Maine), a key vote on the tax plan, is warning that linking the mandate repeal and the tax fight is a mistake that could make it harder to get a bill through Congress.

"My concern is that if we combine the health-care issues with tax reform we make it far more controversial," she told reporters before lawmakers left town for Thanksgiving.

The Trump administration is signaling that it’s open to dropping the ObamaCare provision. Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE, Trump’s budget chief, told CNN the White House is “OK with taking it out” if it is an “impediment” to passing the overall legislation. 

As part of a trade off, Senate GOP leaders have signaled they are prepared to pass legislation from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball MORE (D-Wash.) that would provide two years of funding for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. 

Democrats, however, are warning that they won’t help pass that bill, which would need 60 votes, if Republicans link it to the tax plan.

Lawmakers are also under pressure to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expired at the end of the September. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Trump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP MORE (R-Texas) has predicted that funding could end up in the December spending bill. 

Government funding

One of the first deadlines lawmakers face is Dec. 8, when government funding will expire.

With Congress returning on Nov. 27, they’ll have less than two weeks to craft legislation to avoid a shutdown. In the Senate, tax reform is expected to consume much of the first week.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) has floated that lawmakers might need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to give appropriators more time to reach a long-term agreement. 

But Ryan said the stopgap bill would only last a few weeks. He wants to pass a full 2018 fiscal year funding bill by the end of December.

Complicating the timeline for passing a long-term funding bill are the spending caps.

Current spending levels are higher than the 2018 caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Without a deal to raise the caps, across-the-board spending cuts would be triggered automatically in late January.

Congressional leaders are eyeing a deal to raise budgetary caps by as much as $200 billion over two years, but the agreement is still being ironed out.

Immigration

The fate of an Obama-era immigration program has emerged as one of the largest hurdles to getting a government funding deal.

The Trump administration is nixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows certain undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and go to school without the fear of deportation. 

The deadline for deciding what to do about DACA isn’t until mid-March, but Democrats are demanding that Congress take action before the end of the year.

Trump and Senate Republicans decided during a closed-door meeting last month that immigration would not be part of the spending bill, but House Democrats plan to force the issue.

Without Democratic support, it could prove difficult for House Republicans to pass legislation preventing a government shutdown. Several liberal senators are also pledging to oppose a funding bill without a DACA agreement.

Intelligence reforms

Lawmakers face an end-of-the-year deadline to renew a key surveillance program, but they face opposition from privacy hawks.

Both chambers have taken steps toward reauthorizing, and reforming, the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.

The provision authorizing the surveillance program, known as Section 702, allows the government to collect emails and text messages sent by foreign spies, terrorists and other foreign targets overseas.

Both the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee have voted to advance their own proposals, but both measures are expected to face a contentious floor fight.

The Freedom Caucus in the House is pledging to oppose the Judiciary panel’s bill over what they argue are unacceptable breaches of Fourth Amendment protections.

Meanwhile, Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran MORE (R-Ky.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDefense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Lobbying groups ask Congress for help on Trump tariffs MORE (D-Ore.), as well as Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill Antitrust enforcers in turf war over Big Tech Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE (R-Utah) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats press for action on election security The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine MORE (D-Vt.), have introduced alternatives to the Senate Intelligence bill.

Flood Insurance

Congress will need to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program by early December.

The House passed its bill, the product of months of negotiations between conservatives and Republicans from coastal states, earlier this month. The legislation would renew the program for five years, update federal flood mapping requirements and seek to bolster an emerging private flood insurance market. 

But the Senate has yet to take steps toward reauthorizing the program or lay out a path forward for potential legislation.

Lawmakers have until Dec. 8 to work out an agreement after a roughly three-month extension was included in the government-funding and debt-ceiling deal passed in September.