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House passes short-term spending bill that increases debt limit

The House passed a short-term government funding bill that includes a debt limit increase along party lines on Tuesday, teeing up a fight in the Senate as Republicans assert they will not support a continuing resolution that raises the federal government’s borrowing limit. 

The bill — introduced by House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.) on Tuesday — looks to keep the government funded through Dec. 3, increases the debt ceiling through Dec. 16, 2022 in addition to providing $10 billion for emergency disaster aid to “cover losses from natural disasters occurring in 2020 and 2021.”

Democratic leadership stood firm in their position that the debt ceiling increase should pass with bipartisan support, arguing it’s necessary to pay for spending that happened under the previous administration and noting they supported raising the debt ceiling multiple times under Republican control. But Republicans in both chambers have repeatedly called for Democrats to go it alone via the reconciliation process, alleging that the debt limit increase would provide Democrats the opportunity to “recklessly spend” on partisan priorities. 

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) urged members of the GOP conference to vote against the measure during the House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday morning, a source in the room confirmed. 

Uncertainty over the level of support from within the Democratic caucus emerged ahead of the vote, with progressives pushing back on language to provide “$1 billion for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats to support Operation Guardian of the Walls.” The provision was ultimately stripped out of the measure despite criticism of the move from moderate Democrats, who received assurances that the Iron Dome funding would be included in the year-end spending bill.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise pushed Republicans to vote against the measure.
Andrew Harnik/AP

Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass a funding bill to avert a government shutdown, with the current fiscal year set to expire at the end of the month. 

While Democrats are looking to ramp up pressure to increase the debt ceiling by linking it to the must-pass spending bill, daring Republicans to risk taking the blame for the looming government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has repeatedly asserted that the majority of his conference will not back the measure. 

Numerous GOP senators have not ruled out the possibility of backing the measure, with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who represents a state that was recently heavily impacted by Hurricane Ida, said he is likely to vote in favor of the legislation due to its inclusion of  disaster relief.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have not indicated how they will vote on the measure. But even with the support of three Republicans, Democrats are still significantly short on the number of votes needed to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has not yet indicated how she'd vote on this spending bill.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has not yet indicated how she’d vote on this spending bill.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly called on Congress to act swiftly to raise the debt ceiling, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday that “the overwhelming consensus among economists and Treasury officials of both parties is that failing to raise the debt limit would produce widespread economic catastrophe.”

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