House Democrats unveil bill to avert shutdown and suspend debt limit

Washington — House Democrats on Tuesday released the text of a short-term government funding bill that includes a provision to suspend the debt limit and directs billions of dollars to efforts to relocate Afghan refugees and for disaster relief following recent hurricanes and wildfires.

The 94-page bill, known as a continuing resolution, maintains current federal funding levels through December 3 and includes a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022. If passed by the House and Senate, lawmakers would avoid two fiscal crises they are facing in the coming weeks: a partial government shutdown and defaulting on the nation’s debts, which Biden administration officials have warned would have catastrophic economic consequences

The legislation also provides $28.6 billion in disaster aid to address recent hurricanes, wildfires and droughts, as well as other natural disasters, and $6.3 billion to support relocation efforts of Afghans who fled Kabul after the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

“It is critical that Congress swiftly pass this legislation to support critical education, health, housing and public safety programs and provide emergency help for disaster survivors and Afghan evacuees,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she anticipates the House will vote Tuesday on the continuing resolution that keeps the government running.

The House and Senate returned to Washington on Monday following a weeks-long recess and were immediately confronted with a lengthy legislative to-do list and fast-approaching deadlines.

Government funding is set to lapse September 30, and a failure by Congress to approve a must-pass funding bill by the end of the month will lead to a partial government shutdown as the country continues battling the coronavirus-pandemic.

The Treasury Department also estimates the federal government’s borrowing authority will expire in October, and inaction from Congress would lead the U.S. to default on its debts, the Biden administration has warned.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday the short-term funding measure would include a suspension of the debt limit and have said a vote to suspend or raise the debt ceiling should be bipartisan.

But it’s unclear whether the legislative package can clear the Senate in its current form. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said Democrats will not get help from Republicans with hiking the debt limit.

On the House side, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana is rallying Republicans to vote against the legislation with the debt limit suspension included, a person familiar with the plans confirmed to CBS News.

Zak Hudak contributed reporting.