Down to the wire: The U.S. government avoids a shutdown, as Biden’s infrastructure plans remain in limbo

September 30, 2021, 9:50 PM UTC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sped away from the Capitol in her motorcade Thursday afternoon after ensuring that the federal government would remain open for the time being

Congress and Senate just narrowly averted a shutdown this week by extending government funding through December 3rd, a stopgap measure that gives lawmakers more time to negotiate the dual $1.2 trillion and $3.5 trillion infrastructure budget proposals that make up President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda

The law will now make its way to Biden’s desk where he is expected to sign it ahead of the midnight funding deadline

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday morning that he had made a deal with minority leader Mitch McConnell to pass the measure. “Some good news: Today, the Senate will pass a continuing resolution that will eliminate the possibility of a government shutdown tonight,” Schumer said from the floor Thursday morning.

The bill will fund the government until early December and also “provide funding to help process and resettle Afghan refugees and finally deliver on critical disaster aid for Americans battered by storms and wildfires this summer,” said Schumer.

Democrats failed to pass a stopgap measure on Monday because it included a raise of the debt ceiling, which Republicans refused to support. “There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy, so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” McConnell said upon blocking the bill.

McConnell has voted to raise or suspend the debt limit 32 times in the past, including three times under President Donald Trump, but has insisted that Democrats will have to act unilaterally and without Republican support to raise it this time around. 

Without a suspension or extension of the debt limit, the U.S. is set to run out of funding by mid-October. Today, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged Congress to make haste in solving the problem and encouraged them to consider ending the self-imposed limit altogether. If no action is taken before the ceiling is reached, she warned, “it would be catastrophic for the economy and for individual families.”

Congress, meanwhile, now has another two months to negotiate around the contentious $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. Pelosi appeared confident that a deal could be made with Democratic holdouts, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. While both centrists have been adamant that they don’t support the bill as is, Pelosi indicated that during her Thursday morning press conference that they are more amenable to coming to an agreement behind closed doors. 

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