Political News

Senate reaches last-minute deal to avert government shutdown

US Capitol

(WASHINGTON) — The Senate was set to vote Thursday on a deal party leaders reached late-night Wednesday to avert a government shutdown that would have affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers and slammed an economy still struggling to recover from the pandemic, all this with just hours left to stave off a crisis.

Under the deal, announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, senators are expected to dispense with a handful of Republican amendments and then approve a temporary funding bill that not only averts a shutdown until Dec. 3, but also disaster aid for states ravaged by extreme weather and money to further assist Afghan refugees.

The stopgap measure does not include any provision to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, though, after Republicans steadfastly rejected any attempt to include it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has continued to insist that his conference will not help raise the borrowing limit — or even expedite Democrats’ ability to do so alone — citing concerns about the majority party’s intention to pass trillions in new spending for social and climate policy. This, despite a debt ceiling increase paying for past, bipartisan debt.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted the irony of Republicans refusing to raise the borrowing limit but then voting to approve billions in new spending.

“If there’s no money in the Treasury to pay for these items — what’s the point?” Leahy asked.

McConnell, for his part, condemned Democrats for not including $1 billion in funding for Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system. Democrats in the House balked at funding, and the measure was stripped out in that chamber. But a majority of Democrats in both chambers have said they intend to pass the funding for a key U.S. ally at a later date.

The stopgap funding measure, once passed in the Senate, heads back to the House where it is expected to be swiftly approved. Then it hits President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, just hours before the government technically runs out of money at the end of the day Thursday.

These things always take much longer than is expected, and with just hours before the midnight deadline, it does remain possible that lawmakers will miss that time limit but not by any great length of time.

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