U.S. House votes to avoid government shutdown, test of upcoming Biden agenda

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress passed legislation on Thursday to prevent a government shutdown, but another test of President Joe Biden’s platform was ahead as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a bill. $ 1 trillion infrastructure law.

Some progressive Democrats have vowed to vote against the bill to invest in the country’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, angry that Democrats have yet to come to an agreement on a companion bill to billions of dollars with funding for social services and to fight climate change.

The House approved the government’s funding measure until Dec. 3 in a bipartisan 254-175 vote, hours after it passed the 65-35 Senate. He will now go to Biden for signing before the funding runs out at midnight.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the House will also vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday, despite further infighting between moderate and progressive Democrats.

When reporters asked House Democrat No.2 Steny Hoyer if he was convinced the bill would pass in a vote on Thursday, he replied in one word: “No.”

Not to adopt this measure would be a stinging setback for Biden. Infrastructure legislation has already been passed by the Senate with the support of Republicans and Democrats. But he could fall victim to a standoff between moderate Democrats and progressives over a bigger bill that would strengthen social services and tackle climate change.

Lawmakers on the left wing of the party have said they will not vote for the infrastructure bill unless they are certain their priorities will be reflected in the social spending bill.

Senator Joe Manchin, a key Democratic moderate with the power to block legislation in the Senate, said Thursday the bill is expected to cost no more than $ 1.5 trillion – well below the proposed $ 3.5 trillion price. by Biden.

Pelosi, who earlier promised moderates a vote on the small $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill this week, told a press conference that the party was in a “good place.” But she declined to predict whether the measure would pass on Thursday.

With very slim majorities in Congress, Democrats can’t afford to lose many votes if they are to get their platform through. And they’re unlikely to get much support from House Republicans keen to recapture a majority in the 2022 midterm election.

The Senate interim spending bill would also provide assistance to communities hard hit by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Money to help Afghan refugees is also included.

Manchin’s proposed price of $ 1.5 trillion was sure to annoy progressives, who had originally proposed $ 6 trillion in new spending. A group of protesters chanted “Manchin is a traitor” as he spoke on Thursday.

He said the bill should also help natural gas producers, who have a big presence in his home state of West Virginia. It was sure to anger environmentalists, who called for a swift abandonment of fossil fuels in the face of worsening climate change.

Manchin also said lawmakers should first determine what taxes are needed to cover the cost of the new spending. He said the differences could take weeks to resolve.

Another moderate Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, declined to say whether she agreed with Manchin’s proposal. She has met with Biden on several occasions to discuss the bill.

THREAT TO THE DEBT CEILING

In another high-stakes battle, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have continued to fight to give the Treasury Department additional borrowing power beyond the current legal limit of $ 28.4 trillion. A historic US debt default could occur around Oct. 18, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said if Congress does not act.

Republicans don’t want any part of the debt limit increase, saying it’s the Democrats’ problem since they control Congress and the White House.

The House on Wednesday night approved a bill suspending the debt ceiling until December 2022. The Senate could vote it “as early as next week,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, but Republicans should block it again.

Yellen said Thursday it would be a “disaster” if Congress did not raise the debt ceiling. Uncertainty is starting to creep into financial markets, although few believe the nation will eventually default.

The looming debt crisis is shaking Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, according to a national Ipsos opinion poll conducted for Reuters on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He showed that 65% of adults, including eight in 10 Democrats and five in 10 Republicans, are “very” or “a little” concerned that Congress will not reach a debt deal on time.

The poll also found that 30% think Republicans in Congress deserve the most blame if there is a government shutdown, while 21% would blame Democrats in Congress and 16% would blame Biden.

Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; additional reports by Jarrett Renshaw and Chris Kahn; written by Andy Sullivan; edited by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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