A visitor runs around the Washington Monument near the U.S. Capitol at dawn, in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
Congress will race to prevent a government shutdown Thursday with hours to go before a midnight deadline.
The Senate plans to move first to pass a short-term appropriations bill that would keep the government running through Dec. 3. Barring any delays, the House would then approve the plan and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk before funding lapses.
The legislation includes money for hurricane relief and the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
A government shutdown could lead to furloughs of federal workers and the suspension of certain services. A funding lapse could pose particular challenges as the U.S. continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic — though the Biden administration has said a shutdown would have little effect on public health functions.
Congress can snuff out one possible crisis Thursday but has another looming. Lawmakers still need to raise or suspend the debt ceiling before Oct. 18 to prevent a default on U.S. debt and the job losses, economic damage and stock market drop that would come with it.
Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress, tried to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling as part of the same bill. Senate Republicans blocked the legislation as they oppose raising the borrowing limit.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his party will vote for a funding bill without a debt ceiling suspension.