Senate Republicans block bill to avoid government shutdown, suspend debt ceiling
Republicans blocked Senate bill to fund the government at current levels and to suspend the debt ceiling, leaving open the possibilities of an early Friday morning government shutdown and catastrophic U.S. default that could occur in October if Congress does not act.
A procedural vote on the bill, which required 60 votes in the Senate to pass, fell across party lines, with all Republicans voting against the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he changed his vote from “yes” to “no” on procedural grounds. The bill had previously been passed along party lines in the House. The failure of the bill is no surprise, as Republicans had said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling, insisting that Democrats and President Biden are spending too much and that they only action should be taken to raise the debt ceiling. The bill would have funded the government until December 3 and raised the debt ceiling until December 22.
If Congress does not approve the funding by the end of September 30, the end of the current fiscal year, large swathes of government will cease to function. The last partial government shutdown took place under former President Trump from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019.
The debt ceiling is the amount the federal government can borrow to meet its existing obligations. Without an agreement to suspend or increase the debt limit, the Treasury Department cannot continue to pay federal government bills.
It is likely that the Senate will have to manage the debt ceiling through a process called reconciliation, which would allow Democrats alone to act to raise the debt ceiling, since they hold a majority of 50, plus one. , with Vice President Kamala Harris deciding vote. Most other bills require 60 votes to be introduced in the Senate.
The United States has never defaulted on its debt. Republicans argue that the national debt, a burden on future generations, has grown far too high, while Democrats point out that on several occasions Democrats have voted to raise the debt ceiling while a Republican was president .
Ahead of the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans “will support a clean, ongoing resolution that prevents a government shutdown” without raising the debt ceiling. McConnell said Democrats can raise the debt ceiling on their own.
“There must never have been an ounce of drama in all of this. All drama here is self-created by Democrats,” the Kentucky Republican said in the Senate ahead of the vote, saying Senate Democrats had it all. time and all the tools to do what they need to do.
The failure of the spending and debt cap bill comes the same week Democrats attempt to iron out disagreements within their party over the president’s national agenda, which is split into two bills – a bill funding traditional infrastructure, including roads, bridges and rail, which has already been passed in the Senate, and a massive spending bill to significantly expand social services and education. Progressives have threatened not to vote for the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill until the other spending bill passes. At least two Democratic senators oppose the level of spending in the social spending bill, and their support is crucial for the passage of the measure.
A vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill was originally scheduled for Monday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed it until Thursday.
Asked by a reporter about what is at stake in his presidency and his program this week on Capitol Hill, Biden told reporters on Monday: “Victory is what is at stake.”
Mr Biden, who met with key lawmakers at the White House last week to work out how to push through his national agenda,.
“Now we are in this impasse for the moment, and we are going to have to pass these two laws. Both must be adopted,” he said at the time.