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The House will vote next week on a major funding bill that combines federal government spending with emergency money for Afghan refugees and states hit hard by summer flooding and hurricanes.
House lawmakers will return on Sept. 20 to face a long and difficult to-do list as well as a clash with Republicans, who say they’ll block legislation that raises the borrowing limit in response to a plan by Democrats to spend trillions on new social welfare programs.
Democrats must formulate a plan to pass a debt limit increase following warnings by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that she’s running out of maneuvers to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on loans.
Democrats are weighing whether to add a debt limit increase to the federal funding and disaster aid bill, which would provoke a standoff with the GOP but potentially lure in some Republican votes.
“Conversations are ongoing, and a decision has not been made,” a senior Democratic aide told the Washington Examiner.
In addition to funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling, Democrats, who control the majority, plan to consider a $3.5 trillion social welfare spending package as well as a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.
They'll also take up a bill that would create federal protections against state abortion restrictions. Democrats announced they would consider the legislation following the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Texas ban on abortions after six weeks.
“We must ensure that women and health care providers are protected and that a woman's access to health care is not determined by where she lives,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote to fellow Democrats on Friday.
The Maryland Democrat told lawmakers in a memo on Friday he will schedule a vote on the infrastructure bill for the week of Sept. 27.
Hoyer did not provide a hard date for taking up the social welfare spending measure, however.
The move is likely to cause anger within the mostly liberal Democratic caucus, who say they do not want to vote on the infrastructure bill until they win passage of the $3.5 trillion social welfare legislation, which President Joe Biden has named the Build Back Better Act.
Hoyer said the House would consider the Build Back Better legislation “during this work period” but did not provide a specific date.
The September work period runs until the Columbus Day break that begins on Oct. 1, according to the current schedule.
Democrats will first bring up stopgap funding for the federal government.
Current funding runs out on Sept. 30, and lawmakers are far behind on consideration of fiscal 2022 spending legislation, particularly in the Senate.
Democrats are weighing whether to wrap into the bill a provision to raise the debt limit, which had been suspended for more than a year.
The nation’s debt level has reached $28.4 trillion.
Republicans oppose a debt limit increase, citing reckless spending by Democrats that they say will hurt the economy and fuel inflation.
But GOP lawmakers could be lured into approving it if Democrats wrap it in with emergency funding that will help many states recover from catastrophic summer flooding and hurricane damage as well as the devastation caused by wildfires.
The Biden administration has requested $24 billion in emergency aid for those disasters, and he’s also seeking an additional $6.4 billion to help Afghan refugees resettle in the United States.
House Democrats could pass the measure without GOP support with a simple majority vote, but the Senate filibuster rule means 10 Republicans would have to join all Democrats in the upper chamber to clear the measure for Biden’s signature.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, warned Senate Republicans would vote in unison against a debt limit increase, even if linked to federal funding and disaster aid.
But it would be difficult for GOP lawmakers from disaster-stricken states to reject a bill providing critical aid to their constituents.
Several GOP lawmakers have signaled they’ll consider voting for the debt limit increase if it is tied to disaster aid, but the measure may still fall short of the 10 needed to pass the bill.
Democrats say they are considering multiple options to pass a debt limit increase.
House and Senate committees, led by Democrats, met this month to advance the $3.5 trillion spending package, but internal differences may delay consideration.
Centrist Senate Democrats say the package is too costly, while other Democrats are unhappy with tax increases and anti-fossil fuel policies wrapped into the legislation. Democrats must also win approval from the Senate parliamentarian for a provision that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 8 million illegal immigrants.
The infrastructure package is bipartisan and has already passed the Senate. It would pay for road, bridge, and waterway projects, expanded broadband, and new electric vehicle charging stations.
House Democrats are under pressure to pass the infrastructure measure so Biden can sign it into law.
Hoyer signaled in the memo on Friday they’ll fulfill a pledge to pass it by Sept. 27.
Their three-seat majority means they will have to convince liberal Democrats to allow the bill to pass ahead of consideration of the $3.5 trillion package.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and a socialist, told CNN that “it would be a terrible thing if both those bills failed,” and added, “They are linked together.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio