The House passed a bill Tuesday night to keep the federal government funded past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, but language included to suspend the debt limit for more than a year is likely to doom the bill’s prospects in the Senate.
The stopgap spending measure would fund the government into early December, giving congressional leaders and the White House another two months to reach agreement on fiscal year 2022 funding. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Monday but Republican senators say that Democrats bear sole responsibility for the nation reaching its debt limit due to President Biden’s economic agenda.
“This could not be simpler,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said earlier today. “If [Democrats] want to tax, borrow and spend historic sums of money without our input, they’ll have to raise the debt limit without our help. This is the reality. I’ve been saying this very clearly since July.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said just three percent of the nation’s current debt has been incurred under the Biden administration and raising the debt ceiling is about “paying bills already incurred.”
“Congress is ironclad in its commitment to never letting the full faith of the credit of the United States come under threat, a commitment that has long been bipartisan,” Pelosi said this week. “Threatening to force the United States into default would be reckless and dangerous beyond measure.”
Congress is getting sufficiently close to the Sept. 30 funding deadline that the White House budget office instructed federal agencies today to begin preparations for the first government shutdown since the pandemic began. Administration officials stressed that this is standard procedure and expressed confidence in Congress to arrive at a legislative solution.
“We fully expect Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, get disaster relief to the Americans who need it, and avoid a catastrophic default, especially as we continue to confront the pandemic and power an economic recovery,” a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told the Washington Post. “In the meantime, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse in funding.”
Should the Senate vote on Monday fail, Democrats may seek to quickly strip the debt limit language from the stopgap funding bill but they would need Republican support to expedite passage of the bill before the shutdown deadline next Thursday.