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GOP blocks bill to keep government funded

Mitch McConnell
Posted at 6:55 PM, Sep 27, 2021

Republican senators have blocked a bill to keep the U.S. government funded and allow borrowing.

But Democrats, determined to avoid a federal shutdown, will likely try again.

All this as Democrats also press ahead on President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy agenda.

The tangled efforts Monday are not necessarily linked. But the fiscal year-end deadline to fund government operations past Sept. 30 is up against the Democrats’ desire to make progress on Biden’s $3.5 trillion federal government overhaul.

Republicans reject Biden's package as too big. And they won't vote for more borrowing to pay past debts.

The bill Senate Republicans rejected Monday night would have funded government operations temporarily, to early December, while also providing emergency funds for Hurricane Ida and other disaster relief and for Afghan refugees.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell rejected that approach because Democrats also included a provision to suspend the debt limit, which would allow continued borrowing to pay off the nation’s bills.

Once a routine matter, raising the debt limit is now a political weapon of choice wielded by Republicans to attack Democrats — even though both parties have been responsible for piling on debt.

“The Democrats will do the responsible thing — the right thing, the thing that has been done for decades by both parties — and vote yes,” said Schumer ahead of the vote.

He called the Republican opposition “unhinged.”

McConnell has said he wants to fund the government and prevent a devastating debt default, but wants to force Democrats to split the package in two and take the politically uncomfortable debt ceiling vote on their own.

“Republicans are not rooting for a shutdown or a debt limit breach,” he said.

The House began debating the public works bill late Monday, and while it won bipartisan support in the Senate, House Republican leaders are wary of supporting it. Donald Trump, the former president who tried and failed to secure an infrastructure deal when he was in the White House, is rallying opposition to it.

As Pelosi huddled privately Monday with House Democrats, it was clear she is pressing ahead to move as swiftly as possible on Biden’s broader package.

Biden’s proposal is to be paid for by increasing the corporate tax rate, from 21% to 26.5% on businesses earning more than $5 million a year, and raising the top rate on individuals from 37% to 39.6% for those earning more than $400,000 a year, or $450,000 for couples.

While Democrats are largely in agreement on Biden’s vision — many ran their campaigns on the longstanding party priorities — stubborn disputes remain, including how to push toward cleaner energy or to lower prescription drug costs.