The Senate on Thursday afternoon voted to pass a continuing resolution to keep government funded past an expiring midnight deadline – moving on trouble spot down the road as Congress confronts a series of obstacles.
The Senate voted 65-35 to pass the measure, which now goes to the House, where is expected to pass and ultimately reach President Joe Biden‘s desk.
The bill keeps the government open under prior-year spending levels until December 3.
But it does nothing to raise the statutory debt ceiling, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warning the government will run out of ‘extraordinary measures’ on October 18, risking a potential default.
The stopgap bill also includes $29 billion in disaster relief for states battered by Hurricane Ida and other disasters. It also provides funds to resettle and support Afghans who fled their home country during the chaotic US withdrawal ad the end of the 20-year US war.
Thousands of migrants are being held at military bases and in third countries, with many to be resettled in the US.
‘This is a good outcome, one I´m happy we are getting done,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. ‘With so many things to take care of in Washington, the last thing the American people need is for the government to grind to a halt.’
Senate Republicans had filibustered an earlier Democratic effort to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling to deal with the looming default deadline.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats must increase the debt limit with their own votes in a likely party-line reconciliation bill that is tied in knots this week.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted House Democrats would vote and win on an infrastructure bill Thursday ever as her top deputy expressed doubt liberal members of the party would give it the support it needs.
‘This is the fun part,’ the speaker said. ‘We’re on a path to win the vote. I don’t want to consider any options other than that. That’s just the way it is.’
But Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the number two in party leadership, said the votes weren’t there.
Asked by reporters on Capitol Hill if the bipartisan infrastructure measure – known as BIF – would pass, he replied: ‘Nope.’
Pelosi, however, was in a jovial mood as Joe Biden’s agenda hangs on by a thread due to an intra-party war. The fighting continues as the president was unable to cut a deal with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to prevent all out chaos.
The two want him to trim back his ambitious $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that would provide free pre-K, expanded paid family and medical leave and a series of programs to fight climate change.
Manchin on Thursday announced his topline number is $1.5 trillion – far below the president’s.
He confirmed he told President Biden his number and conceded that a deal ‘is going to take some time.’
Sinema released a statement on Thursday that did not give her topline number but said she gave that figure to Biden and Democratic leaders in August.
The statements from the two senators come as they have been under fire from the left wing of the party for holding up Biden’s agenda. Many liberal lawmakers berated them for not naming their price tag.
The defense from moderates comes as progressive lawmakers in the House said they won’t support the $1.1 trillion infrasture deal without a guarantee from Manchin and Sinema of their support for reconciliation.
House Progressive Caucus Chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, confirmed that half of their 96-member caucus will not vote for infrastructure without a guarantee on the $3.5 trillion bill.
‘We will not be able to vote for the infrastructure bill until the reconcilation bill has passed,’ she announced Thursday morning after a long meeting with Pelosi.
Pelosi, however, said a deal would come together even as both wings of her party held firm.
‘Let me tell you about negotiating. At the end is when you really have to weigh in. You cannot tire. You cannot concede,’ she said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted House Democrats would vote and win on an infrastructure bill Thursday ever as her top deputy expressed doubt
But Pelosi’s top deputy, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, says Democrats don’t have the votes to pass Biden’s infrastructure plan
Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed confidence the House will pass President Biden’s infrastructure bill even as liberal Democrats threaten to with hold their support
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives at the Capitol on Thursday as lawmakers face a midnight deadline to fund the government
DEMOCRATS’ LAST-MINUTE DEAL TO AVOID A SHUTDOWN: THE TERMS
- Keeps the government operating at current levels until December 3.
- Provides $28.6 billion to disaster reliefs after Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana and the North East.
- Provides $6.3 billion to Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S. after fleeing Kabul as the Taliban took power.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats will be able to extend government funding because they are following a GOP roadmap.
- He criticized the lack of funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and said it’s ‘baffling’ that Israel has ‘become a thorny subject for the political left’.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal on Wednesday night and said ‘we are ready to move forward’.
With a margin of four seats, Pelosi can’t afford to lose the liberal wing of her party.
Democrats will race through a series of votes on Capitol Hill Thursday as they also rush to fund the government ahead of a midnight shutdown deadline.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced his party’s support for the funding measure after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acquiesced to GOP demands to remove language raising the debt ceiling.
‘Today, the Senate will consider and pass a government funding bill and do our part to avoid a shutdown,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor.
The Senate passed the measure 65 to 35 on Thursday afternoon. It now goes to the House.
The deal, which funds the government through December 3, includes $28.6 billion for natural disaster recovery and $6.3 billion for Afghan refugees.
Democrats agreed to strip out language which would have suspended the debt ceiling through 2022, appeasing Republicans who insist that Democrats should raise the borrowing limit themselves by using the process called budget reconciliation.
That still leaves the question of raising the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. government from going into a disastrous credit default by mid-October, an issue Republicans insist that Democrats must resolve on their own in reconciliation.
While that crisis appears to be averted, the other one – on Biden’s agenda – is still playing out.
Negotiations went on through the day and into Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game. Biden made a surprise appearances – and was greeted by boos from Republicans – as he brought ice cream bars to the lawmakers.
He worked the phones during the game and spoke with Pelosi in the Democratic dugout. She was seen on the phone during the game having an intense conversation.
Pelosi also sat with House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer during the part of the game, the two of them having an intense discussion as the plays unfolded before them. In the charity game, which features Democratic versus GOP lawmakers, the Republicans won.
Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also met with Biden at the White House on Wendseday before the game, as the Democrats rush to salvage the president’s ambitious domestic agenda. And White House aides spent much of the day on Capitol Hill trying to cut a deal.
Biden’s budget package would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and use the money to expand government health care, education and other programs in a massive overhaul of social programs.
In the 50-50 Senate, Biden needs every Democratic vote.
Biden spent hours meeting with Sinema at the White House on Wednesday, but appeared no closer to a deal after Manchin fired off a scathing statement decrying the broad spending bill as ‘fiscal insanity’ and warning it would not get his vote without adjustments.
‘I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach,’ said the West Virginia Democrat.
Manchin said he ‘can’t support $3.5 trillion in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March.’
‘At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?’ added Manchin.
‘What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki assured reporters that Sinema, at least, wanted a reconciliation bill to get passed. ‘Our sense is she does,’ Psaki said.
Even before Manchin’s statement came out, progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders was encouraging progressives in the House to kill the bipartisan infrastructure bill – using that as leverage to get the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill done.
Jayapal said Manchin’s statement made that outcome even more possible.
‘His statement has just probably created at least a bunch more votes on the House floor against a bipartisan bill,’ she said. ‘I feel very confident that we have the votes [to block it] if the bill does come up.’
Jayapal of Washington state said of Manchin: ‘He needs to either give us an offer or this whole thing is not going to happen.’
The bipartisan infrastructure bill has already passed the Senate.
Senator Joe Manchin is swarmed by reporters outside of the Capitol as negotiations continue on President Biden’s economic agenda
Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin are the two moderate votes Biden needs in the Senate but they don’t agree with his $3.5 trillion price tag
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal is surrouded by reporters after meeting with Speaker Pelosi
Pelosi was seen above the Democrat dugout speaking on the phone as the clock ticked on the shutdown and Biden’s agenda
President Joe Biden (right) was spotted on the phone during the Congressional Baseball Game as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cheers on the Democrats’ team