US Senate fails to pass government funding and debt ceiling measures

US Senate fails to pass government funding and debt ceiling measures

The US Senate failed to take action to prevent a partial government shutdown and suspend the federal debt ceiling after Republicans refused to support the proposal in a deeply divided Congress.

Senate Democrats on Monday were unable to pass legislation that will face two deadlines rapidly approaching and, if not addressed, threaten to destabilize the US economy as it struggles to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans got enough “no” votes to prevent the measure from passing under Senate rules that require 60 members of the 100th chamber to pass most legislation.

Democrats, who narrowly control both houses of Congress, have just three days to find another way to run the government after Thursday — when current funding ends.

Lawmakers will also need to know how to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default risk, with independent analysts warning that the US Treasury is likely to completely exhaust its borrowing capacity between October 15 and November 4.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Cho Castro, reporting from Capitol Hill, said the failure of the Senate vote meant “the clock is ticking.”

Chu Castro made it clear that lawmakers from both major US parties want to avoid government shutdowns and protect the United States from defaulting on its debt, but they differ on how to achieve these goals.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday accused Republicans of ‘making default more likely’ [File: Alex Edelman/EPA]

“The bill drafted by Democrats, which failed to pass in the Senate, attempted to address both the debt ceiling and the government shutdown…it would not help raise the debt ceiling.

“Democrats will have to scramble in an increasingly narrow window for another solution.”

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Ahead of Monday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that a default would hurt the economy. “Republicans are deliberately making default more likely,” he said on the Senate floor.

A government shutdown — or worse, a default — would be a major blow to Democrats under President Joe Biden, who have positioned themselves as the party of responsible government after Republican Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he will try to force the House to vote to extend the funding, regardless of a provision that would suspend the government’s $28.4 trillion debt ceiling until the end of 2022. It is not expected to succeed.

“We could have had a bipartisan vote today to fund the government had it not been for the strange methods of the Senate Democratic leader,” he said on the Senate floor.

Republicans have said they want Democrats to raise the debt ceiling themselves, saying they will not support future spending plans. Democrats point out that much of the nation’s new debt originated during the Trump administration.

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