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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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U.S. Senate moves to avert government shutdown with stop-gap spending bill

Democratic support for President Joe Biden’s policy agenda showed fresh signs of fragmenting on Thursday (September 30), even as the Senate took a step towards averting a partial shutdown of the federal government that would be a black eye for the party.

In a bipartisan vote of 65-35, the Senate agreed to continue to fund federal agencies through Dec. 3. The House of Representatives was expected to pass the measure later on Thursday, sending it to Biden to sign before funding runs out at midnight.

While those votes looked poised to sail through, the fate of a $1 trillion bill to revitalize the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure was far less certain.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday he will ask the Senate to consider a House-passed bill raising the nation’s debt limit “as early as next week.”

Senate Republicans have twice this week blocked a bid by President Joe Biden’s Democrats to head off a potentially crippling U.S. credit default, as partisan tensions rattled an economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans say the Democrats should raise the debt ceiling themselves, since they are the majority party, while Democrats say it should be a bipartisan effort.

With razor-thin majorities in Congress, Democrats cannot afford to lose many votes if they want to pass their agenda. And they are unlikely to win much support from House Republicans eager to take back the majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

The stopgap spending bill approved in the Senate would also provide aid for communities hard hit by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Money to help Afghan refugees is included as well.

(Production: Kia Johnson)

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