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The Democrats’ High-Stakes Sprint Through a Legislative Minefield

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21.09.2021

Do you remember the 21st night of September, when Congress careened towards a government shutdown and defaulting on the national debt, amid a brouhaha between progressive and moderate Democrats over two massive infrastructure bills?

The memories of this more innocent time in our lives are about to get subsumed within the chaos to come. Setting our celebratory ba-de-ya aside, it’s going to be a stressful few weeks for the Democratic party and their narrow majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as for President Biden’s ambitious agenda, as the party negotiates its way through the minefield of intraparty factionalism and past a GOP that’s determined to not help.

Let’s start with the debt ceiling. If Congress doesn’t raise the limit on the amount the Treasury can borrow by mid to late October, the government will default on its debts. We don’t strictly know what will happen if this occurs, but experts agree: It will be extremely bad. The Treasury won’t be able to disperse Social Security checks, child tax credits, or military salaries, amid other major priorities. Defaulting would also destabilize the global economy, and could plunge the country into recession amid a still ongoing pandemic.

Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling three times on a bipartisan basis under President Donald Trump, but Republicans have made it clear that they won’t aid President Joe Biden in the same way.

“This is playing with fire. Playing games with the debt ceiling is playing with fire and putting it on the back of the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

Democrats have attached a suspension to the debt ceiling—basically, kicking the can down the road to December 2022—to a continuing resolution, or CR, funding the government. Because, as if lawmakers didn’t have enough on their plates, the government will run out of funding at the end of September. The House may vote on the CR as early as today, and will likely pass it with little to no Republican support. (The CR initially contained a $1 billion provision for procurement for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, but this provision was pulled, a decision which angered some moderates.)

The CR funds the government through December 3, so one thing we’ll get to look forward to during the holiday season is the struggle to fund the government all over again. It also includes more than $28........

© New Republic


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