The House voted to keep the government funded, suspend the federal debt limit and provide disaster and refugee aid, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Republicans who oppose the package despite the risk of triggering a fiscal crisis.
The federal government faces a shutdown if funding stops on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, at some point in October the U.S. risks defaulting on its accumulated debt load if its borrowing limits are not waived or adjusted.
Rushing to prevent that dire outcome, the Democratic-led House passed the measure Tuesday night by a party-line vote of 220-211. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to falter because of overwhelming GOP opposition.
Backed by the White House, the Democratic leaders pushed the package to approval at a time of great uncertainty in Congress. With lawmakers already chiseling away at the $3.5 trillion price tag of President Joe Biden’s broad “build back better” agenda, immediate attention focused on the upcoming deadlines to avert deeper problems if votes to shore up government funding fail.
The measure approved Tuesday would provide stopgap money to keep the government funded to Dec. 3 and extend borrowing authority through the end of 2022. 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.
While suspending the debt ceiling allows the government to meet financial obligations already incurred, Republicans argued it would also facilitate a spending binge in the months ahead.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said since Democrats control the White House and Congress, it's their problem to find the votes — even though he had relied on bipartisan cooperation to approve the debt limits when Republicans were in charge.
In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats will be hard-pressed to find 10 Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.