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Chuck Schumer says Senate has reached a deal to avoid government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal to extend government funding, which is set to expire at midnight on Thursday and plunge the government into a shutdown unless the extension passes. 

‘We have agreement on the CR – the continuing resolution – to prevent the government shutdown. And we should be voting on that tomorrow morning,’  Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Senate floor late Wednesday. 

The deal, which funds the government through December 3, includes money for Afghan refugees and disaster relief. 

Democrats agreed to strip out language which would have suspended the debt ceiling through 2022, appeasing Republicans who insist that Democrats should raise the borrowing limit themselves by using the process called budget reconciliation. 

The eleventh-hour deal comes as lawmakers stare down a number of deadlines with massive stakes for the economy and President Joe Biden’s sweeping domestic agenda. 

Centrist and progressive Democrats are sparring over a pair of giant spending bills, and Congress must also raise the government debt ceiling to prevent a disastrous default in the next few weeks. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal to extend government funding, which is set to expire at midnight on Thursday

Democrats have removed language from the bill lifting the debt ceiling, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) says Democrats must resolve on their own

Democrats have removed language from the bill lifting the debt ceiling, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) says Democrats must resolve on their own

The coming days are expected to be the most critical yet of Biden’s presidency, as he negotiates the tricky passage his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which progressives are threatening to tank unless the moderates who support it also back Biden’s $3.5 social and environmental spending bill.

Many Republicans support the infrastructure bill, which does not raise taxes, but the party is firmly opposed to the broader measure, which would hike taxes on businesses.

But the most urgent priority is funding for federal agencies, and Senate Democrats say they will pass temporary legislation early Thursday, hours before the money runs out, to keep the lights on until December 3.

The bill, which includes $6.3 billion to help Afghan refugees and $28.6 billion in disaster aid, is expected to have broad cross-party support and should advance from the House of Representatives to Biden’s desk soon after the Senate gives its green light. 

Shutdowns typically mean hundreds of thousands of government employees being sent home as federal services and properties close.

There has never been a shutdown during a national emergency such as the pandemic, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the 2018-19 stoppage wiped $11 billion from the economy.

With the threat of the shutdown off the table, Democratic leadership would be free to focus on raising the debt ceiling and passing Biden’s sputtering domestic agenda — a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan and a $3.5 trillion spending plan.

The bills are central to Biden’s legacy, but both risk failing because of feuding between the Democrats’ progressive and centrist factions.

In a sign of the jitters unsettling the West Wing, Biden canceled a Wednesday trip to Chicago, instead staying in Washington to lobby holdouts ahead of an uncertain House vote on infrastructure.

Legislators were due to deliver their verdicts on that bill on Thursday although even that looked increasingly unlikely with the leftist wing and the moderates miles apart on a path forward.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be on the brink of pulling a planned Thursday vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after a revolt in the progressive caucus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be on the brink of pulling a planned Thursday vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after a revolt in the progressive caucus

Pelosi suggested she might postpone Thursday’s vote on a related $1 trillion public works measure that centrists want but that progressives are threatening to defeat unless there´s movement on Biden’s broader package. 

The White House regularly points to polling showing Biden’s legislative priorities are broadly popular, although less so in some key swing districts.

‘Our objective here is winning two votes, getting these two pieces of important legislation across the finish line, because we know the impact they will have on the American people,’ Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

After a day of behind-the scenes talks with aides and Democratic congressional leaders, Biden attended the lawmakers’ annual baseball game for charity, handing out ice cream bars to both teams — Democrats and Republicans — at Nationals Park. 


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