House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled Democrats will avert a government shutdown by passing a stopgap spending bill without a debt ceiling increase in it, amid Republican opposition to linking the two measures.
“Whatever it is, we will have a CR that passes both houses by Sept. 30,” Pelosi said at a press briefing Thursday, referring to the so-called continuing resolution that will be needed to fund the federal government at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The House passed a stopgap spending measure this week that would keep the government open until Dec. 3 and suspend the debt ceiling until Dec. 16, 2022. Republicans, however, are expected block it in the 50-50 Senate, where 60 votes would be required to move it ahead.
At a news conference that included Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi said that the conversation on the debt limit would continue. Schumer separately announced that Democrats have a “framework” for a deal to pay for President Joe Biden’s economic plan, though neither he nor Pelosi provided any details.
It’s not yet clear when the U.S. Treasury could be on the brink of a default, adding uncertainty to how quickly Congress has to act. Yellen has said the government will probably exhaust its ability to avoid breaching the limit at some point in October.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats have plenty of time to use a partisan approach to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes.
McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday that it would take Democrats “about a week or a little more” to use the so-called budget reconciliation procedure to raise the debt limit. Senate Democrats have so far resisted deploying that tactic, saying that the effort should be bipartisan — as it has been in the past.
“This may inconvenient for them, but it is totally possible,” McConnell said. “This Democratic government must not manufacture an avoidable crisis.”
McConnell’s comments challenge House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, who said Wednesday that Democrats probably do not have enough time to raise the U.S. debt ceiling on their own using the fast-track budget process before the default date.
A budget expert agreed with McConnell’s view of the timetable.