WASHINGTON (AP) Congress is attempting to avert one crisis while putting off another, with the Senate poised to adopt legislation that would fund the federal government until early December.
Following the Senate vote on Thursday, the House is expected to approve the measure, preventing a partial government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on Friday.
At the insistence of Republicans, Democrats were forced to remove a suspension of the federal government's borrowing limit from the bill. According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if the debt limit isn't raised by Oct. 18, the country would likely face a financial crisis and economic recession. Republicans say Democrats have the votes to raise the debt ceiling on their own, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell is insisting that they do so.
However, the most pressing priority facing Congress is to keep the government operating once the current fiscal year ends at midnight on Thursday. The expected approval of the bill will allow lawmakers more time to produce the spending legislation that will fund federal agencies and programs they implement.
Meanwhile, Democrats are struggling to achieve President Joe Biden's top domestic priorities over the finish line. Those include a bipartisan infrastructure bill that allocates $550 billion in new infrastructure for roads, bridges, broadband, and other priorities, as well as tens of thousands of social, health, environmental programs.
With so many critical issues to address, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Schumer said the stopgap spending legislation will provide assistance to those who are resisting from Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters, as well as financial assistance for Afghanistan evacuees from the 20-year war between the United States and the Taliban, according to Schuman.
Action in the early hours to avoid a partial government shutdown has become increasingly routine, with legislators generally able to reach if he or she can make resurgence. This time, the funding bill was slowed by disagreements over the option for the government to take on additional debt so that it could continue to fulfill its financial obligations. The borrowing limit is currently set at $28.4 trillion.
Both parties have voted to raise the limit, and the United States has never defaulted on its debts in the modern age. During Donald Trump's presidency, Democrats have teamed up with the majority of the Republican Senate three times in a row. Democrats this time wanted to take care of both of their priorities in one bill, but Senate Republicans backed it up on Monday.
The federal government may pay obligations already paid by raising or suspending the debt limit. It does not allow for additional expenditures. McConnell has stated that Democrats should pass a debt limit extension with the same budgetary means they're employing to try to pass an $3.5 trillion effort to expand social safety net programs and address climate change.
There is no tradition of doing this on a bipartisan basis. McConnell told reporters that past debt ceiling increases were due to a lack of flexibility.
House Democrats complained about the steps they were being forced to take as they approved a standalone bill late Wednesday that would suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022. That bill now goes to the Senate, where it'll almost certainly be thrown away by a Republican filibuster.
You are more interested in punishing Democrats than preserving our credit, and I'm having a real tough time getting my head around, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told Republicans. The idea of not paying bills simply because we dont like (Bidens) policies is the wrong way to go.
However, the Republicans were irritated. They stated that Democrats have chosen to ram through their political priorities on their own, and that they are responsible for raising the debt limit on themselves.
Republicans will refuse to assist them lift the debt ceiling even as the Democratic majority continues to demand money hand over fist, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
Republicans have ballooned the debt under Trump, according to McGovern, and now they're slain of the consequences.
Republicans have now rediscovered the issue of the debt," McGovern stated. "Where were you the last four years?"
The Treasury has taken measures to preserve cash, but once it runs out, it will be forced to rely on new income to pay its obligations. This would undoubtedly result in delays in payments to Social Security recipients, veterans, and government employees, including military personnel. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank, believes that the federal government would be unable to reimburse about 40% of payments due in the following weeks.
This article was co-written by Brian Slodysko of Associated Press.