Senate prepares to pass bill to prevent government shutdown

Washington – The Senate is preparing to pass a short-term government funding bill that keeps federal agencies in business until December 3, but does not address the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a default of payment.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are bringing in interim legislation and could take action as early as Wednesday, two days after GOP senators blocked a financing measure who both avoided a government shutdown and suspended the debt ceiling. Any proposal regarding the latter has been a failure for Republicans, who have warned Democrats must raise the debt ceiling without relying on their support.

Known as a continuing “clean” resolution, the measure maintains current funding levels through Dec. 3 and includes $ 6.3 billion for Afghan refugee resettlement efforts, as well as $ 28.6 billion for the disaster relief following a wave of devastating hurricanes and forest fires.

“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 in remarks to the Senate. “With so many critical issues to resolve, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown. This proposal will prevent one.”

Senate Democrats assessed support Tuesday night for the speedy passage of the continued resolution by unanimous consent, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. Passing it by unanimous consent would not require a formal vote, but a single senator could oppose it and derail the process.

If passed by the Senate, the interim finance bill would head to the House, where its passage would avoid at least one budget crisis facing Democrat-controlled Congress. Government funding is expected to run out late Thursday by the end of the day, and a funding cutoff would trigger a partial government shutdown while federal agencies continue their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday that the House could vote on a clean and continuing resolution on Wednesday, as well as a separate measure suspending the debt ceiling. “We’ll see what the Senate sends us,” Hoyer said. “They are trying to send us something.” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would support a clean government funding bill to avoid a shutdown.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that “much of public health” would be exempt from a shutdown, but said “it doesn’t change the fact that the shutdown of services, downsizing in different agencies is not in the interests of dealing with any crisis we face, including the pandemic. ”

Still, the White House last week issued guidelines to federal agencies to begin planning for a funding cutoff.

Keeping government operational isn’t the only legislative obligation for Congress, as lawmakers envision a debt crisis in the absence of action to raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders in a letter on Tuesday that the United States exhaust extraordinary measures allowing the government to pay its bills on Oct. 18, and a failure by lawmakers to raise the debt limit would put the country in default for the first time in its history.

Earlier this week, Democrats attempted to pass an interim measure that would have funded the government until December 3 and suspended the debt ceiling until December 2022. But the bill failed to collect all 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate, as Republican senators opposed the inclusion of the debt ceiling provision.

Along with efforts to prevent a government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Democratic leaders are looking to make progress this week on two key aspects of President Biden’s domestic policy agenda: overhauling large swathes of the economy.

While the House is expected to vote on the infrastructure plan on Thursday, it is unclear whether it will pass as progressive lawmakers have threatened to defeat the bill. They want the Senate to vote on the $ 3.5 trillion proposal first, although there are objections to the bill’s price from two Senate Democrats, whose support is needed for the broad package be adopted.

Alan He and Zak Hudak contributed reporting.

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