Fedweek

The reprieve from a standoff over the federal debt ceiling leaves another deadline to deal with the issue that will come around the same time as the deadline to again take up a separate issue that earlier was delayed, the need to continue agency funding authority in the lack of regular appropriations.

The House on Tuesday (October 12) followed the Senate’s vote of last week to add $480 billion to the debt ceiling, a funding amount that is projected to be sufficient until early December. Congress took that action to avoid a possible default by the government on the public debt that otherwise would have occurred within a week.

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That action follows several attempts by Democratic leaders in Congress to suspend the ceiling into December of next year. Senate Republicans had thwarted those measures, though, in an attempt to use the limit as a brake on Biden administration initiatives. They have said they will not join Democrats in any further action on the debt ceiling, even at the cost of a default on the national debt.

By temporarily raising, rather than suspending, the debt limit, that potential impact remains in place, with unknown but potentially severe impacts on the economy and government operations.

Exactly when the additional debt authority will expire depends on government income and spending patterns, but it is projected to occur around December 3, when the current “continuing resolution” expires. That measure was similarly passed just ahead of the prior deadline of September 30 when funding would have expired for most federal programs and triggered a partial shutdown.

With only limited progress toward enacting regular appropriations bills in the House, and virtually none in the Senate, Congress appears headed toward enacting—at some point—a catchall spending measure to fund agencies through the rest of the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to consider a large infrastructure bill and an even larger wider policy bill reflecting White House policy goals. Also on the plate is the DoD authorization bill, considered an annual “must-pass,” which has cleared the House but not the Senate.

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