The House of Representatives voted to pass legislation on Tuesday to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month and suspend the nation’s borrowing limit, setting up a showdown with Republicans who insist Democrats should act alone to stave off a looming debt crisis. The party line vote was 220-211.
Government funding is set to expire on September 30, but the stopgap bill the House approved would extend funding and keep the government open through December 3. In addition, the measure includes a debt limit suspension through December 16, 2022. It would also provide $28.6 billion in disaster relief funding and $6.3 billion to assist Afghanistan evacuees.
The bill now faces an uphill battle in the Senate. By attaching the debt limit suspension to the must-pass funding bill, Democrats are essentially daring Republicans to vote no and spark a shutdown. It’s not yet clear what Democrats’ plan B would be if the effort to avert a shutdown and suspend the debt limit runs aground in the Senate, as it appears is on track to happen.
If Senate Republicans block the stop-gap funding measure over the debt limit, there could still be enough time to strip the debt limit measure out and pass a stand-alone spending bill to avoid a shutdown. But the vote would take place perilously close to the shutdown deadline and would likely require cooperation on both sides to process a quick Senate vote. It also would leave the debt ceiling problem unresolved, setting up yet another flashpoint issue to be dealt with by Congress in the weeks to come.