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Democrats Say Debt Limit Increase Will Be Part of Short-Term Spending Bill

September 20, 2021 by Dan McCue
House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will pair a continuing resolution to keep the government open through December with an increase in the debt limit. The package is expected to be put up for a vote by next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. announced Monday afternoon.

In a joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer said the legislation will pass the House before the fiscal deadline comes and goes a week from Thursday.

In addition to avoiding a “needless government shutdown,” the bill will suspend the nation’s debt limit through December 2022.

The bill, which will fund the government through December, also includes emergency disaster relief and funding to help resettle Afghan evacuees.

The announcement came after several weeks of debate over the best way forward regarding the government’s borrowing limit and preventing a default on the national debt.

Senate Republicans had vowed to oppose the legislation in a bid to put the brakes on President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package.

Both Republicans and Democrats have priorities they want to see addressed in the regular order appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2022, and an extension of government funding through December will provide an appropriate amount of time for that bipartisan, bicameral process to come to completion,” the speaker and majority leader said. 

Pelosi and Schumer went on to say that the suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 “would provide an amount of time commensurate with the debt incurred as a result of passing last winter’s bipartisan $908 billion emergency COVID relief legislation, which was authored by Republican Sens. Cassidy, Romney, Portman, Collins and others,” and was ultimately voted for by more than 40 Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and signed into law by the previous president.

But my pairing the continuing resolution with the debt-limit increase — something McConnell has effectively been daring them to do for weeks, the speaker and majority leader are playing a bet of their own — that McConnell and his GOP colleagues wouldn’t dare oppose the package and bring on a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

“The American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur in the December 2020 ‘908’ COVID package that helped American families and small businesses reeling from the COVID crisis,” Pelosi and Schumer said.

“Addressing the debt limit is about meeting obligations the government has already made, like the bipartisan emergency COVID relief legislation from December as well as vital payments to Social Security recipients and our veterans.  Furthermore, as the administration warned last week, a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession,” they added.

Separately, the National League of CIties urged members of Congress to work together to address the debt limit, “before harm is done to our national economy, and particularly to cities, towns, and villages.”

NLC Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony wrote, “Cities, towns, and villages across America are starting to rebuild thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, and other necessary emergency funds. Hitting the debt ceiling could have negative implications for the U.S. economy that could have devastating downstream impacts on municipalities just as they are beginning to recover.”

“Further, breaching the debt ceiling puts federal funding in peril for essential programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency that supports municipalities,” he added. “Following Hurricane Ida, communities from Louisiana to New York are relying on FEMA for help and any slowdown in funds reaching residents along the storm’s path would be devastating.”

Other economic leaders and organizations urging Congress to act on the debt limit include Business Roundtable, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Center for American Progress, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and leading trade groups in the banking and financial services industry, among others.

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