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Senate Democrats ditch effort to link funding bill to debt limit

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. The White House's big plans for the U.S. economy are on the verge of passing their first major legislative tests in the Senate, leaving their future to intra-party struggles between Democratic progressives and moderates. Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg

Senate Democrats are seeking a vote Wednesday on a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown, but without a provision to increase the federal debt limit.

The temporary funding measure also does not include additional money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which was part of an earlier proposal, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Bloomberg.

Democrats are seeking consent from all senators to bring the bill to the floor as a way to expedite passage before funding for the government runs out after the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The bill extends funding through Dec. 3 and includes disaster aid as well as money for Afghan refugees.

Republicans on Monday thwarted an attempt by Democrats to include a debt ceiling increase with the temporary funding. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blocked Democrats from advancing a stand-alone debt ceiling increase.

Democrats, having failed to use the must-pass funding and disaster aid bill, to drum up any GOP votes for the debt ceiling are now delinking the two.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned Congress that her department will effectively run out of cash around Oct. 18 unless Congress suspends or increases the debt limit.

Democrats can continue to try to seek Republican permission to hold a simple majority vote, but McConnell has said his members won’t go along with raising it as long as Democrats are pressing ahead on an expansive tax and spending measure on their own.

Republicans are attempting to force Democrats to use an involved parliamentary procedure to raise the debt limit without any GOP votes.

Top Democrats rejected pursuing that path, however.

“Going through reconciliation is risky to the country and a non-starter,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday, referring to the budget measure Democrats could use to get around a Republican filibuster.

In the House, Democrats would be able to pass a debt ceiling increase on a party-line vote.

Separately, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said there is enough support to pass a separate Iron Dome funding bill later.

The House last week passed a stopgap bill without funds for the system but later approved a $1 billion Iron Dome bill on a bipartisan basis.

 

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