Republicans blocked a Senate bill fund the government at current levels and suspend the debt ceiling, leaving open the possibilities of a government shutdown early Friday morning and a catastrophic US default that could take place sometime in October if Congress does not act.
A procedural vote on the bill, which required 60 votes in the Senate to proceed, fell along partisan lines, with all Republicans voting against the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he changed his vote from “yes” to “no” for procedural reasons. The bill was previously approved along partisan lines in the House. The bill’s failure is not a surprise, as Republicans had said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling, insisting that Democrats and President Biden they are spending too much and only they should act to raise the debt ceiling. The bill would have financed the government until December 3 and increased the debt limit until December 22.
If Congress does not approve the funds by the end of September 30, the end of the current fiscal year, large sectors of the government will cease operations. The last partial government shutdown took place during former President Trump from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019.
The debt ceiling is the amount of money that 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 the federal government’s bills.
The Senate will likely have to deal with the debt cap through a process called reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to act alone to raise the debt cap, as they have a majority of 50, plus one, with Vice President Kamala Harris at the helm. tiebreaker vote. Most other laws require 60 votes to proceed 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 too large, while Democrats note that Democrats repeatedly voted to raise the debt ceiling while a Republican was president.
Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans “will support a clean and ongoing resolution that will prevent a government shutdown” without raising the debt ceiling. McConnell said Democrats can raise the debt limit on their own.
“There never had to be an ounce of drama in any of this. Any drama here is created by the Democrats,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor before the vote, saying Senate Democrats have all the time and all the tools to do what they need to do.
The failure of the spending and debt ceiling bill comes the same week that Democrats are trying to resolve disagreements within their party over the president’s national agenda, which is split into two bills: a bill of law that finances traditional infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and railways. that has already passed the Senate, and a massive spending bill to vastly expand social services and education. Progressives have threatened not to vote on the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill until the other spending bill passes. At least two Democratic senators oppose the level of spending on the social spending bill, and their support is crucial to passing the measure.
Initially, a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill had been scheduled for Monday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed it to Thursday.
When asked by a reporter what is at stake for his presidency and his agenda this week on Capitol Hill, Biden told reporters Monday: “Victory is what is at stake.”
Biden, who met with key lawmakers at the White House last week to find out how to pass his national agenda,.
“Now, we are in this impasse right now, and we are going to have to pass these two laws. Both must be passed,” he said at the time.