Debt limit increase removed from bill, but must pass by Oct. 18

Congress is moving to avert one crisis while putting off another with the Senate poised to approve legislation that would fund the federal government into early December, the Associated Press reports.

The House is expected to approve the measure following the Senate vote Thursday, preventing a partial government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins Friday.

Democrats were forced to remove a suspension of the federal government’s borrowing limit from the bill at the insistence of Republicans. If the debt limit isn’t raised by Oct. 18, the country would likely face a financial crisis and economic recession, says Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Republicans say Democrats have the votes to raise the debt ceiling on their own, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell is insisting that they do so.

But the most immediate priority facing Congress is to keep the government running once the current fiscal year ends at midnight Thursday. The bill’s expected approval will buy lawmakers more time to craft the spending bills that will fund federal agencies and the programs they administer.

Meanwhile, Democrats are struggling over how to get President Joe Biden’s top domestic priorities over the finish line. Those include a bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges, broadband and other priorities, as well as a $3.5 trillion slate of social, health and environmental programs.

“With so many critical issues to address, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer said the stopgap spending legislation will also provide aid for those reeling from Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters as well as funding to support Afghanistan evacuees from the 20-year war between the U.S. and the Taliban.

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