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Congress Will Vote Again This Week to Avoid Government Shutdown

Congress Will Vote Again This Week to Avoid Government Shutdown

It’s deja vu all over again as Democrats in Congress races to keep the government funded and avoid what would be seen as a particularly embarassing shutdown. If this sounds familiar, that’s because they did the same exact thing barely two months ago. If passed this week, the second extension would give Democrats and Republicans more time to resolve their differences over the 12 regular, annual appropriations bills that finance “discretionary” federal programs for the fiscal year that began on October 1st.

The House of Representatives and Senate have until midnight on Friday to renew temporary legislation maintaining government operations, ranging from national parks and air traffic control to military pay and medical research. Negotiators were working out how long to extend government funding, with sources telling Reuters that the target ranged from mid-January to as late as February.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Congress needs to buy time to tackle the risk of the federal government defaulting on its $28.9 trillion debt if lawmakers do not extend it. “After the House takes action this week, the Democratic-led Senate will move forward to make sure the government remains funded after the deadline,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech. “With so many critical issues, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown.”

Democrats are pushing to address the borrowing limit through regular order instead of reconciliation. But regular order would require Republicans to refrain from using procedural hurdles to block the effort.

Republicans want Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own using a cumbersome “reconciliation” process that allows legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority. Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, said he understood Republicans were willing to do a “quick” reconciliation bill for the debt ceiling. Senator John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, told reporters the funding measure could have a “January-February timeline” but said there was “no consensus” yet among the body.

Thune also said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Schumer were expected to continue negotiations aimed at brokering an agreement to address the government’s borrowing limit by December 15th, when the Treasury has warned it could exhaust its options for avoiding default.

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