House passes bill to avert shutdown and suspend debt limit though Senate passage is unlikely
By Clare Foran and Annie Grayer, CNN
(CNN) -- The House of Representatives voted to pass legislation on Tuesday to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month and suspend the nation's borrowing limit, setting up a showdown with Republicans who insist Democrats should act alone to stave off a looming debt crisis. The party line vote was 220-211.
Government funding is set to expire on September 30, but the stopgap bill the House approved would extend funding and keep the government open through December 3. In addition, the measure includes a debt limit suspension through December 16, 2022. It would also provide $28.6 billion in disaster relief funding and $6.3 billion to assist Afghanistan evacuees.
The bill now faces an uphill battle in the Senate. By attaching the debt limit suspension to the must-pass funding bill, Democrats are essentially daring Republicans to vote no and spark a shutdown.
It's not yet clear what Democrats' plan B would be if the effort to avert a shutdown and suspend the debt limit runs aground in the Senate, as it appears is on track to happen.
If Senate Republicans block the stop-gap funding measure over the debt limit, there could still be enough time to strip the debt limit measure out and pass a stand-alone spending bill to avoid a shutdown. But the vote would take place perilously close to the shutdown deadline and would likely require cooperation on both sides to process a quick Senate vote. It also would leave the debt ceiling problem unresolved, setting up yet another flashpoint issue to be dealt with by Congress in the weeks to come.
Earlier on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer left the door open on what measures the House would take if the Senate is not able to pass what the House sends over before the government runs out of funding next week.
"We want to send it over to the Senate, and give the Senate an opportunity to consider it, figure out what they're going to do and they may send it back to us, at which point in time we will have to make a determination, but we want to pass that bill," he said.
Iron Dome funding sparks progressive outcry
The Democratic-controlled House had been expected to pass the government funding measure, but it faced a last minute snag as a group of progressives have told leadership that they will not vote for the bill if it includes $1 billion in funding for Israel's Iron Dome. The provision has since been taken out of the bill to appease concerns from progressives, two sources involved in the process confirmed to CNN.
The decision to remove the funding sparked pushback from other Democrats who opposed the move, however.
Later on Tuesday, Hoyer said on the House floor that he will be bringing up a separate bill to provide funding for it later this week after it got taken out of the final version of the bill the House is voting Tuesday.
Hoyer said he would bring up the separate bill under suspension, which means it would bypass the normal rules required to pass the bill and require a two-thirds majority to pass.
Democrats want to address debt limit on bipartisan basis
Democrats insist that lawmakers must act on a bipartisan basis to address the debt limit and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Monday that the issue would be paired with the must-pass funding bill.
"This week, the House of Representatives will pass legislation to fund the government through December of this year to avoid a needless government shutdown that would harm American families and our economic recovery before the September 30th deadline," the congressional Democratic leaders said. "The legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 to once again meet our obligations and protect the full faith and credit of the United States."
The clock is ticking to address the debt limit. Congress may only have until mid-October to act before the federal government can no longer pay its bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Sunday, warning that if the US defaults on its debt, it "could trigger a spike in interest rates, a steep drop in stock prices and other financial turmoil."
This story and headline has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Chuck Schumer's title. He is Senate majority leader.
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