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House OKs debt and funding plan, inviting clash with GOP

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House voted Tuesday night to fund the government into early December, suspend the federal debt limit and provide disaster and refugee aid, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Republicans who oppose the package despite the prospects of a looming fiscal crisis.

The Democratic-led House passed the measure by a vote of 220-211, strictly along party lines. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to falter because of overwhelming GOP opposition.

The federal government faces a shutdown if funding stops on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, midnight next Thursday. Additionally, at some point in October the U.S. risks defaulting on its accumulated debt load if its borrowing limits are not waived or adjusted.

“Our country will suffer greatly if we do not act now to stave off this unnecessary and preventable crisis,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said shortly before the vote.

The package approved Tuesday would provide stopgap money to keep the government funded to Dec. 3 and extend borrowing authority through the end of 2022. It includes $28.6 billion in disaster relief for the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and other extreme weather events, and $6.3 billion to support Afghanistan evacuees in the fallout from the end of the 20-year war.

While suspending the debt ceiling allows the government to meet financial obligations already incurred, Republicans argued it would also facilitate a spending binge in the months ahead.

“I will not support signing a blank check as this majority is advancing the most reckless expansion of government in generations,” said Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa.

Backed by the White House, Democratic congressional leaders pushed ahead at a time of great uncertainty in Congress. Democrats are also trying to gather support for President Joe Biden’s broad “build back better” agenda, which would have a price tag of up to $3.5 trillion over 10 years.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was not about to help pay off past debts when Biden was about to pile on more. He said since Democrats control the White House and Congress, it’s their problem to find the votes.

“The debt ceiling will be raised as it always should be, but it will be raised by the Democrats,” McConnell said.

In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats will be hard-pressed to find 10 Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster.

“This is playing with fire,” said Senate Majority Leader

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