Republican senators blocked a bill Monday night to keep the government operating and allow federal borrowing, but Democrats aiming to avert a shutdown pledged to try again — at the same time pressing ahead on President Joe Biden’s big plans to reshape government.
The efforts are not necessarily linked, but the fiscal yearend deadline to fund the government past Thursday is bumping up against the Democrats’ desire to make progress on Biden’s expansive $3.5 trillion federal overhaul.
It’s all making for a tumultuous moment for Biden and his party, with consequences certain to shape his presidency and the lawmakers’ own political futures.
Success would mean a landmark accomplishment, if Democrats can helm Biden’s big bill to passage. Failure — or a highly unlikely government shutdown and debt crisis — could derail careers.
“You know me, I’m a born optimist,” Joe Biden told reporters Monday, as he rolled up his sleeve for a COVID-19 booster shot. “We’re gonna get it done.”
Monday’s 50-48 vote against taking up the bill fell well short of the 60 needed to proceed over a GOP filibuster. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his vote to “no,” a procedural step to allow him to bring the measure back for consideration, which he said would happen this week.
With days to go, Democrats said they will try again before Thursday’s deadline to pass a bill funding government operations past the Sept. 30 fiscal yearend, stripping out the debate over the debt limit for another day, closer to a separate October deadline.
Meanwhile, the real action is unfolding behind the scenes over the $3.5 trillion measure, with Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress seeking a once-in-a-generation reworking of the nation’s balance sheets.