Congress Has Monumental Tasks This Week

A potentially disastrous shutdown, plus the fate of Biden's domestic agenda is at stake
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2021 2:31 PM CDT
Fate of Biden's Agenda May Be Decided This Week
The Senate side of the Capitol is seen at dawn as a consequential week begins in Washington for President Biden.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Biden has relatively little on on his calendar this week, for good reason. The fate of his White House agenda pretty much hangs in the balance in Congress, and he might be needed to woo lawmakers, perhaps even with a trip to Capitol Hill himself, reports CNN. Three massive—and interconnected—issues are at play:

  • Shutdown: The government runs out of money at midnight Thursday, and if lawmakers can't figure out a way to avoid a shutdown, it could lead to "severe financial calamity" and a US default on its debts, per the Washington Post. The House passed a funding bill last week, but Senate Republicans are expected to block it on Monday, ensuring the matter will have to be revisited later in the week. Republicans say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling and insist that Democrats must do so on their own through a budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation. "The move is easier said than done: It could be time consuming, and it could expose Democrats to a series of uncomfortable political votes," per the Post.

  • 2 major bills: As the shutdown situation looms, Democrats are trying to forge a compromise on a $1 trillion infrastructure package and a larger $3.5 trillion spending package, reports the AP. But the two issues are dovetailing with each other. How the New York Times puts it: "Progressives have said they will not back that (infrastructure) legislation until they see action by Congress on a sprawling $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate change package, but moderates have balked at the size and scope of that bill, leaving both bills in limbo." A vote on the smaller package had been set for Monday, but it was pushed back to Thursday as Democratic leaders negotiate with progressives.
  • The stakes: Politico lays them out if lawmakers can't figure out a way to deal with the debt limit. "The nation has never defaulted on its financial obligations, and both parties agree that such a scenario would be a disastrous failure by Congress—likely to disrupt the stock market, raise interest rates and force the Treasury Department to prioritize which payments to make to Americans who depend on the social safety net."
(Read more Congress stories.)

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