Days Ahead of Shutdown Deadline, Senate GOP Block Gov’t Funding

Republicans in the Senate have expressed unwillingness on Monday to avoid an impending government shutdown, voting against the temporary measure House Democrats approved last week to keep the government funded through early December, The Hill reports.

The measure envisaged lifting the limit on federal borrowing through the end of 2022 and providing emergency money for Afghan refugees and natural disaster recovery.

Stressing that GOP would only prevent a government shutdown, Senate Minorty Leader Mitch McConnell also pointed they will not provide Republican votes for raising the debt limit, which later reflected in a 50-48 vote.

The temporary legislation the Democrats previously pushed through the House required 60 votes to pass.

Congress has now until the end of Thursday to avoid a shutdown the following day by passing a government funding bill while the deadline on the country’s borrowing limit is less definite though the congressional leadership was warned by the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen they might need to take action as soon as next month.

The Republicans’ refusal to pass the legislation is the latest setback in the slow-motion brawl over the government’s funding and dealing with the debt ceiling initiated on Aug. 1, when the Treasury Department started using extraordinary measures to keep the government solvent.

After the White House directed federal agencies to start preparing for a potential shutdown, the Pentagon earlier expressed hope that Congress would prevent that.

Republican senators have tried to bring up a short-term funding bill introduced by McConnell and fellow GOP Senator Richard Shelby to fund the government through Dec. 3 without raising the debt limit, but the Democrats blocked the attempt with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stressing that playing games with the debt ceiling is playing with fire.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed last week to overcome political opposition to pass a temporary funding bill after a group of six former US Treasury secretaries urged her in a letter not to let a politically divided Congress be the reason for the world’s largest economy default on its fiscal commitments.

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