WASHINGTON — This was supposed to be the week that Democrats vowed to assert maximum leverage over talks to keep the federal government open – but they may not be in sync about what they’re fighting for.

Liberals from urban districts and coastal states are vowing to withhold support for a must-pass spending bill if Republicans don’t resolve the legal status of young immigrants. Moderates facing reelection in states that President Trump won last year are more focused on boosting funding for children’s health programs, government-backed pensions and programs to combat opioid abuse.

The conflict resurfaces a mathematical reality of Trump’s Washington: Republicans control Congress and the White House but need Democrats to keep the government operating. But with different midterm election priorities in the House and Senate, Democrats are struggling to fight Republicans on a united front.

Ever since Republicans retook control of the House in 2011 and the Senate in 2015, party leaders have leaned on at least a few dozen Democrats to help pass spending bills in the face of opposition from dozens of fiscal conservatives. Once again this week, roughly three dozen ardent conservatives in the House are balking at the latest GOP spending plan, raising concerns that the government will miss a late-Friday spending deadline.

To avoid a shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is moving ahead with plans this week to pass a two-week extension to Dec. 22, probably forcing action on a broader spending plan just before the Christmas holiday.

If Republicans need Democratic votes, “we’ve made very clear the kinds of things that we think are urgent and necessary to address as part of this,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said.

Democrats this week released a laundry list of unfinished business they expect to be addressed: new funding to combat opioid addiction, shore up government-backed pension plans and pay for major infrastructure projects; a new law to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and cash-strapped community health centers; more money for states ravaged by recent hurricanes and wildfires; and a permanent solution for “dreamers,” the 1.5 million children of undocumented immigrants who risk deportation starting in early March.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Congress should approve legislation this month to deal with the undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

The 2nd District congressman joined 33 other Republican House members in a joint letter seeking action on the controversial issue by year’s end.

“While we firmly believe Congress must work to address other issues within our broken immigration system, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year,” the lawmakers said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan released Tuesday.