Senate sends government funding bill to House without debt hike

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to fund the government, moving to narrowly avoid a shutdown poised to start at midnight.

Senators voted 65-35 to fund the government through Dec. 3, as well as provide emergency funding for disaster relief and Afghan refugee relocation.

The bill still needs to be passed by the House and signed by President Biden by midnight in order to avert a government shutdown that would otherwise start on Friday.

“The continuing resolution contains a number of key items that Republicans called for. That includes supplemental funds to help resettle vetted Afghan refugees and hurricane recovery,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), adding that it was “encouraging progress.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also called the vote “a good outcome.”

“I am happy we are getting this done. With so many things happening here in Washington, the last thing the American people need is for the government to grind to a halt,” Schumer said.

Senate Democrats on Thursday rejected an effort by Republicans to limit the aid given to Afghan refugees who were evacuated, as well as a separate amendment on blocking Biden’s vaccination requirements.

The Senate’s vote on the overall bill, and the House’s likely quick passage, takes one issue off of Congress’s crowded plate with Democrats locked in a high-profile fight over a sweeping spending bill at the heart of Biden’s legislative agenda.

The Senate’s passage of the continuing resolution, which continues funding the government at current levels, comes after Republicans blocked a bill on Monday that would have funded the government until Dec. 3 and suspended the debt ceiling through 2022.

Republicans are refusing to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling as they push them to do it through reconciliation, the budget process that lets them bypass a filibuster.

“Democrats need to begin the fast-track process for handling that issue through reconciliation,” McConnell said. 

“Clumsy attempts at partisan jams by the majority will not change that reality. It didn’t work on government funding and it won’t work on the debt limit. They will just be wasting valuable time,” he added.

Democrats removed the debt ceiling suspension from the funding bill in order to smooth its passage through the Senate and avert a government shutdown.

Democrats are so far refusing to use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling, which would require them to say a number they are raising the nation’s borrowing limit to.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated to reporters on Wednesday night that she had ruled out using reconciliation and Schumer has called it a “non-starter” and “risky.”

Congress has until Oct. 18 to find a way to raise the debt ceiling, according to a letter from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Though the country has never defaulted, even struggling to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 resulted in S&P stripping the United States of its longtime AAA credit rating.

A default could cost millions of job losses and wipe out trillions in household wealth, according to a recent report from Moody’s Analytics.

“We have more work to do: just as our Republican colleagues realize that a government shutdown would be catastrophic, they should realize that a default on the national debt would be even worse,” Schumer said. 

Tags Chuck Schumer debt hike infrastructure bill Janet Yellen Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Reconciliation

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