House approves debt and financing plan, calling for clash with Republicans

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WASHINGTON – The House voted Tuesday night to maintain government funding, suspend the federal debt limit and provide disaster and refugee assistance, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Republicans who oppose the package despite the risk of triggering a fiscal crisis.

The federal government faces a shutdown if funding ends on September 30, the end of the fiscal year – at midnight next Thursday. Additionally, at some point in October, the United States risks defaulting on its accumulated debt if its borrowing limits are not lifted or adjusted.

Rushing to prevent this disastrous outcome, the Democratic-led House passed the measure with a party line vote of 220-211. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to falter due to overwhelming opposition from the GOP.

“Our country will suffer greatly if we do not act now to avoid this unnecessary and preventable crisis,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Said shortly before the vote.

Backed by the White House, Democratic leaders pushed the package for approval at a time of great uncertainty in Congress. With lawmakers already weighing the $ 3.5 trillion price tag for President Joe Biden’s sweeping “build back better” program, immediate attention has shifted to the next deadlines to avoid more serious problems if votes targeting to strengthen government funding fail.

The package approved on Tuesday would provide interim funds to maintain government funding until December 3 and extend borrowing authority until the end of 2022. It includes $ 28.6 billion in disaster relief to the country. after Hurricane Ida and other extreme weather events, and $ 6.3 billion to support Afghan evacuees in the fallout from the end of the 20 Years War.

While the suspension of the debt ceiling allows the government to meet financial obligations already incurred, Republicans have argued that it will also facilitate a spending spree in the months to come.

“I will not support signing a blank check because this majority advances the most reckless government expansion in generations,” Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., Said during the debate.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said that since Democrats control the White House and Congress, it is their problem to find the votes – even though he had relied on bipartisan cooperation to approve the limits of debt when the Republicans were in charge.

“The debt ceiling will be raised as it always should be, but it will be raised by Democrats,” McConnell said.

In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats will struggle to find 10 Republicans to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome an obstruction.

“It’s playing with fire,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.

The Treasury Department has used “extraordinary measures” to fund the government since the last suspension of the debt ceiling expired on July 31 and projects which, at some point next month, will deplete their cash reserves. Then it will have to rely on incoming receipts to pay its obligations, which now stand at $ 28.4 trillion. This could force the treasury to delay or miss payments, a devastating situation.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, warned that if lawmakers allowed federal debt default, “this economic scenario is cataclysmic.”

In a report released by Democrats, Zandi warned that a potential slowdown in government funding cuts would cost 6 million jobs and that stock market losses would wipe out $ 15 trillion in household wealth.

Once a routine affair, raising the debt ceiling has become a political weapon of choice for Republicans in Washington since the arrival in 2011 of Tea Party lawmakers who refused to allow the increase. At the time, they opposed increased spending and the deadlock sparked a budget crisis.

Echoing this strategy, McConnell is setting the tone for his party, but some GOP senators might struggle to vote no.

Republican John Kennedy of Louisiana, whose state was hit by the hurricane and who is running for office next year, said he would likely vote for the increase. “My people are in desperate need of help,” he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that “in our opinion this should not be a controversial vote.” Psaki said Congress has raised the debt ceiling several times on a bipartisan basis, including three times under President Donald Trump.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, was forced to introduce another version of the bill on Tuesday after some members of the Democratic caucus opposed the inclusion of a billion dollars for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, which uses missiles to intercept short-range rockets – fired into the country.

The issue of Israel’s defense divides Democrats, but DeLauro assured colleagues that money for the weapons system would be included in the annual defense spending bill. Hoyer went further and said he would submit an invoice this week to restock the Iron Dome system.

Republicans were very critical of the change and vowed to remain allies of Israel.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Democrats were negotiating Biden’s big “build better” package, as the price likely slips to win over skeptical centrist lawmakers who see it as too much.

Publicly, the White House has remained confident that the legislation will be passed soon, despite strong differences between progressives and moderates in the party over the final size of the package and a bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill.

There has been a wave of awareness from the White House of Democrats on Capitol Hill, and Biden himself has received a call sheet from lawmakers to cajole. The president has spoken to a large number of lawmakers beyond his recent meetings with key Sense centrists. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. to talk about it.

Biden’s grand initiative touches almost every aspect of American life. It would impose tax hikes on businesses and wealthy Americans earning more than $ 400,000 a year and put that money back into federal programs for young and old, including government health, education, and family support. and environmental efforts to combat climate change.

With Republicans opposed to Biden’s vision, Democrats have no voice to spare in the Senate and only a few marginal votes in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised a September 27 vote on the $ 1 trillion public works bill that has already passed the Senate.

While this bipartisan bill should be an easy legislative lift, it also faces a political obstacle course. Dozens of Congressional Progressive Caucus lawmakers are expected to vote against if it gets ahead of the broader Biden package. And centrists will not vote for the larger package unless they are assured that the bipartisan bill will also be included.


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