The US Congress on Thursday approved a stopgap funding bill in a rare show of cross-party unity to prevent a crippling government shutdown, as Democratic leaders struggle to overcome fierce intrusions on President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda .
Hours before the midnight deadline, the House of Representatives voted to keep the lights on for another two months, having already comfortably moved ahead of the Senate, with opposition Republicans backing the ruling Democrats in both houses. .
“It’s a great result, I’m glad we’re doing,” top Democratic senator Chuck Schumer told aides on the chamber floor before both votes.
“With so many things being taken care of here in Washington, the last thing the American people need is for the government to stop.”
The rare example of bipartisan cooperation comes with Democratic leaders trying to strike a deal on Joe Biden’s faltering $3.5 trillion social spending package with no Republican support, and a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Democrats are embroiled in a war of words over progressive and moderate programs, as Republicans enjoy disarray with a look at next year’s midterm elections.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate is due for a crucial vote in the House on Thursday with no chance of passage with Democrats on the left in open rebellion.
Progressives are not confident that centrists, who object to the size and scope of the large spending package, will honor a pact to pass legislation once infrastructure is passed.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin stirred up tensions with a statement Wednesday that argued the trillion-dollar extra spending was “fiscal madness,” reinforcing opposition to the small infrastructure bill.
He told reporters on Thursday that he was not ready to go above $1.5 trillion.
– ‘Working towards winning’ –
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who says she will not bring a bill that does not have votes – said she planned to move forward, while White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “We are on a winning path.” I am working. One vote tonight. We have many hours left in the day.”
Despite the optimism, the needed support was unlikely to materialize, leaving Pelosi the option of putting the infrastructure package on ice and returning to it once the larger package is fully planned.
It won’t be a fatal blow to Biden’s agenda, though the delay – possibly until a later fall – will be a frustration for White House aides, who risk losing momentum after spending weeks marshaling lawmakers.
“It’s not a big catastrophe if the vote doesn’t happen today. It will happen. Mark my words,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN.
“The Infrastructure Bill will be passed and there will be a version of the (Social Spending) Bill.”
The delay will also pave the way for pent up anger while Congress focuses on other bigger challenges, such as raising the debt ceiling.
The US is close to defaulting on $28 trillion in debt, with 19 days until the Treasury Department exhausts its ability to obtain new loans.
No one in either party’s leadership has offered a clear way to avoid the crisis, which will engulf the US economy and ravage world markets.
Republicans are demanding that Democrats – whom they regard as high spenders – take on the political burden of running up debt on their own to control Congress and the White House.
But Democrats are against using a mysterious budget process known as “conciliation” to pass the extension without Republican support. He argues that it will take three to four weeks, making it a non-starter.
The House passed the debt limit increase on a party-line vote on Wednesday, but it will be deadlocked when it comes to the Senate due to opposition from Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)