House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
UPDATED 6:23 PM PT – Monday, September 13, 2021
September has shaped up to be a potentially tough month for Congress. The Senate returned on Monday to a list of priorities needing to be tackled throughout the month as the House wouldn’t return from recess until September 20.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration said the debt limit needed to be raised ahead of an October deadline as the U.S. reached its debt limit at $28.4 trillion on August 1.
“We have annual deficits, we’re not taking in as much money from taxes as we’re spending. We have to increase our debt over time and that means we have to borrow,” explained Shai Akabas, Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “…The Treasury Department can’t borrow the additional money it needs to pay all the bills and also service all the outstanding debt that we have. That’s a problem.”
Democrats have wanted to increase the debt limit with Republican support. However, Republicans said Democrats would have to do it alone if they wanted the increase, which has led to a standstill on the issue.
“What’s important is that they need to see that this date is fast approaching,” Akabas stated. “The risks grow the closer that we get to it.”
While government funding could lapse if a funding bill wasn’t passed by the September 30 deadline, the Biden administration has pushed for nearly $24 billion in disaster relief for things such as hurricanes and wildfires that have occurred over the past 18 months. The administration has also asked for $6.4 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees.
In addition, the House set a September 27 deadline to vote on the $550 billion infrastructure bill, which progressives have threatened to vote against if the $3.5 trillion partisan budget measure wasn’t ready by the time the vote took place.
With all of these issues piling up, a former House GOP aide says it’s “crunch time” for Democrats as the upcoming midterms loom as a potential reminder the odds of Democrats holding the majority are slim.