But a revolt by tea party conservatives blocked passage of a combined bill in the House, which then approved a measure to aid farmers. The leadership promises one for nutrition programs this fall, and an attempt will be made to find common ground with the Senate.
So far, Congress' classic two-house compromises have been elusive.
Both houses have approved budgets.
But some Senate Republicans have blocked Democratic attempts to begin compromise talks, saying they will relent only if there is agreement in advance not to raise the federal debt limit as part of any deal.
"Let me be clear, I don't trust the Republicans," said GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party-backed first-term lawmaker from Texas. "I don't trust the Democrats, and I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don't trust the Republicans or the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has got us into this mess."
Indeed, most opinion polls over the past six months put public approval for Congress in the mid-teens, with disapproval generally over 70 percent.
And yet, says Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., "Congress does reflect the American people and the American people are divided."
Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican who took office in January, said gridlock "is not as bad as I expected," and seems exaggerated by the frenzied 24-hour-a-day news cycle. She said she has been able to agree with several Democrats on amendments to bills in committee.
On a larger scale, though, even prior agreements are endangered. One example:
Under legislation already in effect, spending for one category of federal programs is supposed to total $967 billion for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, with a portion set aside for defense and another share for domestic accounts.
In the House, Republicans approved a budget that adheres to the $967 billion figure but puts more into defense and less into domestic programs than is mandated.
In the Senate, Democrats opted for $1.058 trillion, far in excess of the agreed-upon total.
The difference, about $92 billion, must be reconciled before lawmakers can approve legislation to keep the government in operation after Sept. 30.
Further complicating matters, some tea party-backed Republicans say they will vote for such legislation only if it cancels all funding for the health care law that Congress passed three years ago - a condition Democrats and Obama vehemently reject.
The alternative to compromise is a partial government shutdown, an outcome leaders in both parties say they can avoid.
But that's a struggle for after vacation.