OVER THE HILL
Congress is saying ‘crisis averted’...for now.
Word of the Day: October 16, 2021
adjective | ahb-TOOSS
Definition: not pointed or acute : BLUNT
Truth. The start of a new fiscal year (hi, that’s today) typically requires a lot of prep work (think: OKRs, pitch decks, all that good corporate talk). For the US gov, priority no. 1 is approving a spending bill to keep the lights on at its agencies and departments. And avoid a shutdown that could affect anything from passport processing to whether national parks are open. For a while, it seemed like a shutdown was imminent. But yesterday, President Biden signed a bill after Congress managed to secure the funds until Dec 3. And while lawmakers are happy about this (very) temporary win, they’re already facing another crisis.
And that would be...?
The nation’s debt ceiling. That’s the max amount of money the US can borrow to pay its bills. (And only to pay its bills – no room for more spending money.) For weeks, Treasury Sec Janet Yellen’s been yellen at lawmakers to raise the roof. She says that without it, the US could run out of cash by Oct 18 and risk “widespread economic catastrophe." Democrats are on their third attempt this week to get it done. But Republicans aren’t playing ball, saying Dems can raise the ceiling on their own. And that they won’t participate to help finance President Biden’s agenda. Speaking of...
Yesterday, House Dem leaders said 'rain check' to a planned vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. And that they'll try again today to strike a deal to pass the legislation. The money's to give America’s roads and bridges some much-needed TLC. And to expand broadband internet, rebuild the electric grid, and create a network of EV chargers. In August, the Senate – in rare bipartisan fashion – passed the measure after months of negotiations. But the hurdle in the House has come from Biden’s own party. Progressives want a separate $3.5 trillion spending bill to fund health care, education, and climate to get the green light first. But Senate Republicans – along with two Dem senators – aren’t into the price tag. TBD how negotiations roll out.
Congress has had a week. And while the Biden admin has avoided a shutdown for now, it’s facing challenges that could lead the US to default on its debt for the first time in history.
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