The More Things Change...

House Democrats assumed power last January with promises to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, restore fiscal responsibility to the federal government and reach across the aisle to Republicans in the minority.

When Congress wrapped up its work Wednesday, the House had approved billions in unrestricted funds to conduct the war in Iraq, Democrats were forced to bust their own balanced budget rules to shelter millions of Americans from the alternative minimum tax and Republicans were asking for more bipartisanship (while celebrating their success in derailing the majority's agenda).

Change, as it turns out, is an incremental thing.

The House finished the year by approving a Senate proposal to include $70 billion for the military in a massive year-end spending bill. The House initially approved $31 billion for Afghanistan alone, and a majority of Democrats opposed the additional funds.

The chamber also passed a one-year patch to save more than 20 million Americans from the AMT despite strong opposition by centrist Democrats because the bill failed to offset $50 billion in projected revenue.

House members also approved a 15-month extension of the popular state-run children's health care measure that sparked a lengthy partisan standoff this past fall.