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  • Washington Highlights

    House-Passed CR, Debt Ceiling Suspension Face Opposition Among Senate Republicans


    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 5305, on Sept. 21 by a party-line vote of 220-211, just over a week before the end of the fiscal year (FY) on Sept. 30. The bill would extend current government funding temporarily through Dec. 3 to avoid a government shutdown and suspend the debt ceiling until Dec. 16, 2022, to avoid defaulting on debt the federal government has incurred.

    With none of the 12 yearly appropriations bills approved by both chambers, agreement will be needed on a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown at the start of FY 2022 on Oct. 1. However, Senate Republicans have stated that they will not support a CR that contains language to suspend the debt limit, leaving next steps on the House-passed CR unclear. Following House passage of its CR, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) released text of S. 2789, a CR to fund the government until Dec. 3 that does not include language to suspend the debt limit.

    The Treasury Department has indicated that current extraordinary measures being used to pay the government’s financial obligations will be exhausted by mid-October without congressional action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Sept. 23 that Congress would agree to a CR by Sept. 30 without indicating alternative options to address the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans have urged Democrats to add the debt ceiling suspension in the budget reconciliation proposal currently awaiting consideration by the House Rules Committee, which would not need Republican support for passage [refer to Washington Highlights, Sept. 17]. Senate committees have not outlined a timeframe to consider their provisions of the reconciliation package.

    Both the House-passed CR and Senate Republican proposal do include language allowing the National Institutes of Health to provide no-cost extensions to specific multiyear grants set to expire on Sept. 30 that were negatively impacted by the pandemic. The funds, available to grants obligated through FY 2016, would be extended through FY 2022.

    Both CR proposals also include supplemental funds for disaster aid, the resettlement of Afghan refugees, and assistance for unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border.