WASHINGTON – The Senate votes on Monday the first of several major bills that Congress is expected to address this week, including legislation that would fund the federal government to avoid a shutdown, pour billions into the country’s roads and highways and a bill to massive law that contains the bulk of President Joe Biden’s national agenda.
But the path to success for each measure is uncertain, leaving a week of unpredictable political maneuvering amid the looming threat of a government shutdown on Friday and a catastrophic default on its debt in October.
The Senate is expected to vote at 5:30 p.m. EST on whether to begin debate on extending federal funding until December 3 and suspending the debt limit until December 2022.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said it would be irresponsible not to let the government run and pay its debts.
Republicans could block the debate because while they support extending federal funding, they argue that Democrats should have to raise the debt limit themselves. Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said Republicans would not contribute to Democrats’ taxation and reckless spending.
If Republicans block the bill on Monday, Democrats would have to find another way to avoid a government shutdown that begins on Friday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the country’s borrowing capacity will run out in mid-October, which could lead to a global economic collapse unless lawmakers raise the debt ceiling.
Here are the other votes expected this week:
House to open debate on infrastructure bill
The House is due to open debate Monday on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, setting up a high-stakes showdown over how much spending Congress will approve this year.
The Senate has already approved the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $ 550 billion in new spending. So if the House approves it, the bill will go to Biden for his signature.
A group of moderate House Democrats had negotiated a vote by Monday, arguing they would have to claim victory over infrastructure before the more controversial $ 3.5 trillion package of social programs was resolved.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Announced that the infrastructure vote slips to Thursday, when the federal highway program expires.
One of the leaders of the moderate faction, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., insisted on Friday that the infrastructure bill be approved.
But Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Said dozens of Progressive Caucus members will oppose the bill and may reject it unless the $ 3.5 trillion is also approved.
Pelosi outlines Biden’s priorities
Pelosi has scheduled a Democratic caucus meeting for Monday at 5:30 p.m. EST for lawmakers to discuss their priorities. Democrats can still meet when they learn if the Senate is stuck on government funding and the debt limit.
Along with the Infrastructure, Government Funding, and Debt Limit Bill, Pelosi wants to approve the $ 3.5 trillion package of Biden priorities such as paid family and medical leave, universal preschool, and middle school. community, and an expansion of Medicare. Biden’s slogan for endorsing these priorities is called “Build Back Better”.
But Republicans are united against the package, leaving Democrats to approve it themselves. Several Democrats in every chamber questioned the package’s taxation and spending, threatening its approval.
House and Senate leaders spoke with Biden about what should be included in the final package, so lawmakers can vote once on legislation that can be approved by both houses.
The House budget committee on Saturday assembled a first draft of the package from 13 committees. The House Rules Committee, which sets the rules for debating legislation, could begin tweaking the legislation on Tuesday for a possible floor debate.
“We have to find common ground, respectful of everyone’s point of view,” Pelosi said Sunday on ABC “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”. “Overwhelmingly, our entire caucus, with the exception of a few whose judgment I respect, supports Joe Biden’s vision. And we will succeed – make progress this week. “