CR, infrastructure, reconciliation, debt limit come to a head
Congressional action around a continuing resolution to fund the government, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the budget reconciliation bill and the debt limit appears to be coming into focus as the government’s fiscal year ends at midnight Thursday.
All of these issues have implications for agriculture. If the government shuts down, Agriculture Department offices in Washington and around the country would have to close. The bipartisan infrastructure bill officially known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions to repair roads, bridges and ports and to provide Internet service to sections of rural America that don’t have broadband. The budget reconciliation bill as written contains an array of programs that would also increase the baseline of spending available for the next farm bill and tax increases that would affect some farmers. If the government’s ability to issue debt is not increased, it could affect government payments to farmers and also roil credit markets.
After Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed bill that would have funded the government into December and raised the government’s borrowing ability, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said she would prepare a continuing resolution funding the government without a debt limit increase so that it could be passed by Thursday, averting a government shutdown.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has told her fellow Democrats that she will bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a floor vote on Thursday even if the budget reconciliation bill with social programs is not ready. Pelosi said the vote is necessary because authorization for transportation spending will end at midnight Thursday.
Whether Pelosi can convince a majority of Democrats to vote for the infrastructure bill is uncertain. If she doesn’t have the votes, Pelosi, as in the past, may not allow it to come up.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress today that the government will run out of money to pay its bills on Oct. 18.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and 63 Democrats, all of whom voted to suspend the debt limit under President Trump, sent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter urging him to work with Democrats to address the debt limit.
But the Republicans’ unwillingness to vote for raising the debt means that Democrats will probably have to use budget reconciliation to increase the debt limit with only Democratic votes.
Meanwhile, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who have said they would not vote for a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, are meeting with President Biden today to discuss what size of bill they would vote for.
Democrats need all 50 Senate Democrats and Vice President Harris to vote for the reconciliation bill to pass the Senate, since no Republican is expected to vote for it.
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