Sep 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration of the Capitol dome disappearing under the hands of a clock
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.

  • Absent passing a short-term funding bill, federal agencies will close down on Friday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) say that's not an option, so they'll get this done.
  • That means Democrats, namely leadership, will likely have to do what they've spent the last month vowing they wouldn't: attach legislation that would increase the debt ceiling to their partisan reconciliation package.

What's next: Monday's vote is purely symbolic at this point, given Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Republicans have declared for weeks they won't support raising the debt ceiling.

  • A reminder: This is not normal.
  • Democrats still plan to use the failed bill to shame Republicans for what they'll characterize as voting for a shutdown and "careening our country toward a default," as Schumer put it last week.

As we reported last week, the Republicans' refusal to join Democrats in dealing with the nation's debt isn't typical of Congress.

  • The debt they're facing was mostly racked up under the Trump administration and the former Republican president's predecessors.
  • But McConnell has successfully made this a key talking point for his party ahead of the midterms, and a political public relations nightmare for Democrats.
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