Shutdown Looms as House Races to Vote on Funding Bill

Dems cut $1B in 'Iron Dome' funding
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2021 5:56 PM CDT
House Races to Vote on Bill to Avoid Shutdown
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, smiles as he and other GOP leaders speak to reporters after a weekly GOP policy meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The House rushed headlong Tuesday into a vote on legislation to fund the government, suspend the federal debt limit, and provide disaster and refugee aid, forcing a showdown with Republicans who oppose the package despite the risk of a fiscal crisis. The federal government faces a shutdown if funding stops at the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, midnight next Thursday. At the same time, the US risks defaulting on its accumulated debt load if its borrowing limits are not waived or adjusted. The package unveiled Tuesday would provide stopgap money to keep the government funded to Dec. 3 and extend borrowing authority through the end of 2022, the AP reports.

It includes $28.6 billion in disaster relief for the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and other extreme weather events, and $6.3 billion to support Afghanistan evacuees in the fallout from the end of the 20-year war. "It is critical that Congress swiftly pass this legislation,” said Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the Appropriations Committee. The vote was expected Tuesday evening. DeLauro was forced to introduce another version of the bill Tuesday after some within the Democratic caucus objected to the inclusion of $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was not about to help pay off past debts when Biden was about to pile on more with a "reckless" tax and spending package. He said since Democrats control the White House and Congress, it's their problem to pay for past debt. "The debt ceiling will be raised as it always should be, but it will be raised by the Democrats,” McConnell said.

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Even if Tuesday's vote is approved by the House, which Democrats control, it is expected to languish in the 50-50 Senate where Democrats will be hard-pressed to find 10 Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. The Treasury Department warned that it will soon run out of cash on hand, and have to rely on incoming receipts to pay its obligations, now at $28.4 trillion. That could force the Treasury to delay or miss payments. Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, warned if lawmakers allow a federal debt default, "this economic scenario is cataclysmic."

(More spending bill stories.)

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