Congress moves to pass a funding bill

A visitor runs around the Washington Monument near the US Capitol at sunrise, in Washington, USA, September 29, 2021.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

Congress will rush to avoid a government shutdown Thursday hours before the midnight deadline.

The Senate plans to act first to pass a short-term appropriations bill that would keep the government running until December 3. Barring delays, the House would approve the plan and send it to President Joe Biden before the funding expires.

The legislation includes money for hurricane relief and the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

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A government shutdown could lead to federal workers’ licenses and the suspension of certain services. A funding lapse could pose particular challenges during the United States’ efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, although the Biden administration has said a shutdown would have little effect on public health functions.

Congress may quench a potential crisis on Thursday, but another is looming. Lawmakers have yet to raise or suspend the debt ceiling before October 18 to avoid a default on US debt that would result in job losses, economic damage and a stock market crash.

Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, tried to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling as part of the same bill. Senate Republicans blocked the legislation, although extending the roof does not mean new expenses. The approval would authorize the Treasury to cover its existing obligations.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Has said his party will vote for a funding bill without a suspension of the debt ceiling.

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