WASHINGTON – There is less than 24 hours to go before a potential federal government shutdown occurs, and Congress is still debating how to keep the government running and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a debt default. ) sometime in October (1). Democrats have also been trying to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and rally – if they can – around a massive package to bolster the nation’s social security and fight climate change.
Here’s an explanation of how we got to this crazy week – and what could happen if lawmakers can’t come up with a solution.
– Monday: Senate Republicans blocked a funding bill that sought to keep the government running. This is because it included clauses that suspended the debt ceiling until next year so that the Treasury Department could borrow money and thus pay the existing debt. Republicans are refusing to cast their votes to raise the debt ceiling (usually a bipartisan vote).
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers began debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill with the intention of holding a vote this week on it. It has already been approved in the Senate, but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has withheld it for more than a month due to the threat of liberals not to give it their votes. They want Democrats to prioritize the massive social spending bill first.
– Tuesday: Senate Democrats lobbied Republicans to raise the debt limit. After Monday’s failed Senate vote to keep the federal government running and raise the debt limit, Democrats used this day to test Republicans’ conviction. The inability of Congress to raise the debt ceiling in the coming weeks could throw the United States immediately into a recession.
“I think the Republicans may be a little crazy, but they are not that crazy.” So said Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent for Vermont, who believes that at least 10 Republicans will end up helping the Democratic vote on Thursday to suspend the debt limit and keep the government running.
But will they?
“Do you think I’m faking?” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the architect of the party’s strategy of not supplying votes to raise the debt ceiling, asked in a recent interview with Punchbowl News.
Senate Democrats had to make an important decision quickly. Do they give in to the demands of the Republicans and try to pass a debt suspension for themselves? Or are they trying to continue to pressure Republicans to collaborate and tie the debt limit to a vote that allows the government to continue to function?
It’s a cat and dog fight that could lead to a government shutdown during a Democratic term. Democrats say they are determined not to let that happen.
– Wednesday: The Democrats decide to tackle the debt limit issue themselves.
Having failed, for the time being, their lobbying campaign on Republicans, Senate Democrats quickly readjust their plans to avoid a government shutdown this week and a catastrophic debt default next month.
Democrats put together a government funding bill that makes no mention of raising the debt cap. But a series of snags and a congressional tradition – the annual baseball game – forced the Senate to wait until Thursday, just hours before a potential government shutdown. This bill will also have to pass the House.
Once the government is temporarily funded, Democrats will be working to raise the debt limit on their own. They are against the clock. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the government will run out of liquidity to pay its debts on October 18.
To sidestep a Republican obstruction of any effort to raise the debt limit, Democrats may have to carry out a gruesome budget maneuver known as “budget reconciliation.” Democrats are unsure if this can be accomplished in time, and they are furious at Republicans for forcing them to take this risk. Schumer has repeatedly said that he opposes doing it this way, still hoping that the Republicans will give in before mid-October and prevent the United States from going into default, thus defaulting on its debts.
But that will be a fight for another week.
– Thursday: The deadline to fund the government.
Although the bill to fund the government is passing through both houses today, the House of Representatives is debating how to pass the bipartisan bill for infrastructure and the Democrats’ massive social security legislation. That has raised some ultimatums in the party that, to be resolved, will likely mean that one of the parties will have to give in.
– House centrists want: passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, so it can go to Biden’s desk. (It was approved in the Senate this summer.) To get their votes for a key procedure toward the $ 3.5 trillion social package, Pelosi promised this group that a vote on the infrastructure bill would take place this week.
– House liberals want: a guarantee that their massive social security bill will pass the Senate before they cast their votes on the infrastructure bill. One of the liberals, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, said she plans to vote against the infrastructure bill for this reason. The problem is that the Senate Democrats are still debating among themselves what exactly the social spending bill will consist of because they don’t even have it ready yet.
Some Liberal Democrats say that they will not vote for the first without the second. A handful of centrist Democrats say they will not vote for the second without the first. Pelosi can only afford to lose three votes from her own party. If the House votes today on infrastructure legislation, as Pelosi promised her party, this bill could fail without the support of liberals.
– Friday: the government must close without a bill on spending.
Here’s what that would entail. It will likely affect the government’s ability to respond to the pandemic.
“The worst time to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic where we have 140,000 people getting infected and 2,000 people dying every day,” Anthony Fauci, the president’s top medical adviser, said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Amber Phillips discusses politics for the Washington Post’s nonpartisan politics blog and writes the editorial for “The 5-Minute Fix,” a summary of the day’s biggest political news. She was previously in charge of the Las Vegas Sun’s DC office on her own and has reported from as far away as Taiwan.
Read the original article here.
(1): Shortly before going to press with this translation, an agreement was announced to keep the government financed until the beginning of December, but that agreement does not resolve the pending bills or the important issue of the debt limit. We will keep you update.