Will There Be a Government Shutdown? Congress Has 8 Days Until Deadline

The clock is ticking on Congress' latest attempt to avoid a federal government shutdown as Democrats and Republicans squabble over particulars in a stop-gap funding measure that would keep things operating through early December.

The federal budget expires at the end of the month. Democrats, supported by President Joe Biden, have opted for a stop-gap measure while they continue working on a larger budget proposal. It also aims to lift the nation's debt ceiling to prevent the federal government from default.

"The debt limit is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, in that spirit," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, wrote in a letter to members this week. "Congress, as always, is ironclad in its commitment to never letting the full faith and credit of the United States come under threat."

Republicans lifted the debt ceiling multiple times during former President Donald Trump's administration but have rallied around opposing the budget measure, formally known as a "continuing resolution," because it's tied to the increase. Trump, who still holds sway over key GOP lawmakers, called the effort to raise the debt limit "unpatriotic" in a statement Wednesday, despite his previous support for increases.

Lawmakers work to avoid government shutdown
Congress is working to prevent a government shutdown that could happen in eight days. The U.S. Capitol is seen in the above photo on September 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has argued that Republicans have no obligation to help the Democratic majority raise the limit on the Treasury Department's ability to borrow money to fund government priorities. Republicans, while in control under Trump, added to the federal government's debt. But McConnell and other leaders have staked out opposition this time because Democrats are attempting to push through a $3.5 trillion expansion of the social safety net that would provide universal pre-kindergarten, paid family leave, Medicaid expansion and growth of other programs as families continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The stop-gap measure would keep the government funded at current levels through December 3, giving Democrats more time to work on a final version of a massive $3.5 trillion overhaul of the social safety net that has been championed by President Biden.

The House passed the legislation, which would also extend the debt limit until after the 2022 elections, late Tuesday in a party-line vote of 220-211, with no Republicans in support of the bill.

The Senate will take up the measure in the coming days.

But, it was briefly derailed as one section gained pushback from progressive Democrats because it would have funded $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. Democrats ultimately removed that from the package.

Biden's administration lobbied members in recent days to get the temporary measure through to prevent a government shutdown during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 675,000 people in the United States.

It also provides $28.5 billion in hurricane recovery funds and $6 billion in assistance for the resettling of people who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country last month.

It extends authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program that provides flood coverage for millions of homes in at-risk areas.

The legislation also would require a report on tanks, guns and other military equipment that the United States provided for the Afghan National Security Forces that have now fallen into the hands of the hard-line Taliban.