WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, lawmakers are facing two problems and seeking two solutions in Congress.
First, the threat of a government shutdown at the end of the month. The U.S. House on Tuesday, racing to pass a short-term spending measure that would fund the government through early December. But here’s the catch: House Democrats have attached that spending plan to a bill that suspends the debt ceiling (the amount of money the federal government can borrow) until December 2022.
“Should Republicans careen our country towards a default, our country could actually be plunged into recession,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.
Republicans have pledged not to raise the debt limit, arguing Democrats can raise the limit themselves if they want to pass the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, full of President Biden’s top priorities, without GOP support.
“The debt ceiling was suspended for two years,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.). “I did not support that. If we’re going to talk about spending money, we should have to face the American people and advocate for doing that.”
Democrats argue raising the debt limit has always been a bipartisan effort. Now, by tying the two together, they’re forcing Republicans to essentially vote for the deal or vote for a government shutdown.
On the debt ceiling, the federal government has never defaulted on its debt in American history. Treasury officials warn the country will hit its borrowing limit sometime in early to mid-October, forcing Congress to work overtime in the days ahead.
“They are looking at not just $3.5 trillion,” Keller said. “It’s almost $5 trillion in their infrastructure bill that’s not infrastructure.”
Congress has to pass a budget or stopgap measure by the end of the month or risk the government shutdown.