(Trends Wide) — Republicans in the US Senate on Monday prevented the advancement of a bill approved by the House of Representatives to suspend the debt ceiling and prevent a government shutdown.
The move comes after Republicans insisted that Democrats act alone to address the debt cap and leaves Congress without a clear plan to keep civil service processes running, with the threat of a possible shutdown that looming by the end of this week.
Government funding expires September 30, and the interim bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would extend funding and keep government open until December 3. In addition, the measure includes a suspension of the debt ceiling until December 16, 2022. The time to address the debt limit is running out and Congress may only have until mid-October to act before the federal government fails. you can continue to pay your debts.
The Senate voted on a point of order to advance the legislation, which needed 60 votes to pass. Given that Democrats only control 50 seats in the House, they would have needed 10 Senate Republicans to vote in favor.
With the failure of the measure in the Senate, the Democratic leaders of the Congress will now have to fight to determine a plan B. For now, Congress does not yet have a plan announced by the Democratic leadership in both houses on how they will maintain the government. operating dangerously close to the date funds are depleted and a government shutdown may be triggered.
Democrats may remove the debt cap suspension from the funding bill and try to swiftly pass a clean interim spending measure in both houses before the deadline, which Senate Republicans have said they would support, but it is not yet clear what will happen.
Democrats have options to raise the debt ceiling on their own to prevent the United States from suspending payment of its debts, but they argue that voting should be a shared bipartisan responsibility.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Republicans before the vote, saying that “after today there will be no question about which party in this chamber is working to solve the problems facing our country, and which party is facing us. pushing towards an unnecessary and avoidable disaster. “
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear for months that Republicans will not vote in favor of raising the federal borrowing limit, setting the stage for a major showdown on the issue. McConnell’s threat has sparked outrage from Democrats, who have said the GOP leader is playing a dangerous game that could sink the US economy. Republicans argue that it is not uncommon for the majority party to shoulder the burden of raising the debt limit, a politically toxic vote for lawmakers running for reelection.
McConnell said Monday before the vote that Republicans are willing to support a bill to avoid a shutdown as long as it doesn’t include raising the debt ceiling.
“Let me make it very clear once again: we will support an ongoing clean resolution that avoids a government shutdown … We will not provide Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling,” he said.
“Republicans are not in favor of a shutdown or a default on debt,” he added.
Before the Senate vote, McConnell tried to introduce a clean interim bill to keep government open that did not include the debt cap provision as an alternative to what the Democrats wanted to pass. Senate Democrats opposed a request for unanimous consent to advance that proposal.
By attaching the suspension of the debt ceiling to the funding bill that must pass, Democrats are challenging Republicans to vote against and bring about a shutdown.
The stakes are high. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a recent op-ed in the daily The Wall Street Journal, in which he warned that if the United States defaults on its debt, “it could trigger an increase in interest rates, a sharp fall in share prices and other financial crises.”