House Democrats Pass Debt Ceiling Bill Republicans Have Vowed to Block

By Published on September 22, 2021

House Democrats Tuesday night passed a bill to fund the government through early December and to suspend the debt ceiling until late 2022, sending the legislation aimed at avoiding a shutdown and debt default to the Senate where Republicans have vowed to kill it.

The bill, unveiled Tuesday morning, passed on a 220-211 party-line vote after a full day of markups, debate and internal conflict among Democrats. It includes nearly $29 billion for natural disaster relief and over $6 billion for the resettlement of Afghan refugees, and would fund the government through Dec. 3, giving lawmakers more time to compromise on a broader funding package for the 2022 fiscal year.

“This is not a long-term solution,” Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor. “It simply allows additional time for bicameral, bipartisan negotiations on a final year bill for fiscal year 2022.”

The measure, however, is all but certain to die in the Senate. Republicans are staunchly opposed to supporting a debt ceiling increase, arguing that Democrats should raise it on their own given their congressional majorities.

But Democrats have refused to raise it on their own, omitting an increase from their filibuster-proof reconciliation bill and instead putting it in the government funding package. They argue that since they raised it while former President Donald Trump was in office and Republicans controlled Congress, and since recent government spending has been overwhelmingly bipartisan, that Republicans should have a responsibility to lift it as well.

“This has always been bipartisan,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor. “Not everybody on every side of the aisle has voted for it, but nobody would let it fail.”

If the bill fails, it could increase the chance of a shutdown in at the end of September as the two parties fight over the debt ceiling and Democrats clash internally over their $3.5 trillion spending package and accompanying bipartisan infrastructure bill.

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The package passed Tuesday also stalled briefly after progressives objected to $1 billion allocated toward replenishing Israel’s iron dome missile defense system. Democratic leadership eventually removed the provision, frustrating Republicans and moderate Democrats.

“[Israel’s] Iron Dome is a purely *defensive* system — it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers,” said Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin. “Whatever your views on the Israeli-Pal conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic.”

Democrats do plan to put the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, set to pass with a wide bipartisan majority of the House voting in favor. The House also prepared to pass a bill enshrining abortion access into federal law, though it faces the same fate as the funding bill in the Senate.


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