In a race against time, the Senate is expected to vote Thursday morning on an interim financing bill that would prevent a government shutdown.
After weeks of fighting with Republicans over a House-passed bill that would simultaneously have funded the government and suspended the nation’s debt limit, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday night that the two parties had reached agreement on a stand-alone bill that will fund the government until December 3. The bill also maintains current spending levels and provides relief and assistance to Afghan refugees in the event of a hurricane.
Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, are scrambling to pass the bill before 12:01 a.m. Friday, when the fiscal year ends and the government’s budget expires. “We can approve this measure quickly and send it to the House so that it can reach the president’s office before the funding expires at midnight tomorrow,” Schumer said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the House would pass the bill and avoid a shutdown.
But time is running out for the government to avoid defaulting on its debt obligations. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress earlier this week that the United States will default on its loans unless lawmakers suspend or increase the country’s borrowing limit by October 18.
The House voted 219-212 on Wednesday to suspend the country’s debt limit until Dec.16, 2022, with support from all but two Democrats. The measure will likely be killed in the 50-50 split Senate.
The Republican leadership will not raise the debt ceiling as long as Democrats continue to pass a $ 3.5 trillion social spending bill, the second part of a broad economic package Biden wants to define his. presidency. McConnell said Democrats should raise the debt ceiling by including it in the reconciliation package, a process that allows Democrats to pass laws by simple majority. Democrats plan to pass the social spending bill this way.
Schumer said he didn’t want to increase the debt ceiling using reconciliation because there wasn’t enough time. “These are uncharted waters,” Schumer said. “Individual senators could decide to delay, delay and delay. “
Pelosi also ruled out using the reconciliation process to pass the debt ceiling measurement.
The speaker plans to put the spending bill to a vote on Thursday along with the first part of the package, a two-party $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill. Progressive Democrats have vowed to oppose the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the spending bill is first introduced.
Even if the House passes the spending bill, it is unlikely to pass by a simple majority in the Senate as currently drafted. Moderate Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D.-Arizona), have expressed reservations about the vote on the spending bill. Manchin issued a statement Wednesday evening calling the bill a “definition of fiscal madness.”
“I cannot afford an additional $ 3.5 trillion in spending when we have already spent $ 5.4 trillion since last March,” Manchin said.
Underlying the political wrangling is the real threat that the United States could default on its loans unless Congress increases or suspends the country’s debt ceiling.
Failure to tackle the debt ceiling could have huge repercussions. After a showdown in 2011 in which Congress narrowly avoided defaults on its loans, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US long-term credit rating from AAA to AA +. The Government Accountability Office subsequently estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling increased the government’s borrowing costs by $ 1.3 billion in 2011.
fell almost 20% before recovering.
–Janet H. Cho and Evie Liu contributed to this article.
Write to Sabrina Escobar at [email protected]