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Democrats to combine debt limit, government funding in defiance of Republicans

Congress has until Sept. 30 to fund the government or risk a shutdown.

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders announced plans Monday to attach a debt limit extension to legislation funding the government, setting up a showdown with Republican senators on two pieces of high-stakes legislation.

Congress has until Sept. 30 to fund the government or risk a shutdown. The Treasury Department has said the debt limit will be breached sometime in October if it's not lifted, which could disrupt the U.S. economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill they will push forward would fund the government into December, and extend the debt ceiling through December 2022.

"This week, the House of Representatives will pass legislation to fund the government through December of this year to avoid a needless government shutdown," they said. "The legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 to once again meet our obligations and protect the full faith and credit of the United States."

The legislation would require 60 votes to pass the Senate, meaning at least 10 Republicans will have to agree.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, promised to filibuster it, saying there is "no universe" in which he would consent to allowing a simple majority vote on extending the debt limit.

Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said they won't vote to extend the debt ceiling and called on Democrats to do it on their own in the party-line multitrillion-dollar spending and tax bill being considered separately.

Democrats say the debt limit should be extended on a bipartisan basis.

In their statement, Pelosi and Schumer argued that a debt limit extension through December 2022 "would provide an amount of time commensurate with the debt incurred as a result of passing last winter’s bipartisan $908 billion emergency COVID relief legislation," which they noted that numerous Republicans supported and then-President Donald Trump signed into law.

At the same time, House Democrats are facing a self-imposed deadline of Sept. 27 to vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, as part of a promise made to centrist lawmakers.

But progressives say they will vote it down unless the multitrillion-dollar package is ready by then. It appears unlikely to be finished given broad intra-party differences that remain.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the leader of the progressive caucus, said Monday afternoon she feels "very good" about her whip count on Democrats voting to stop the infrastructure bill next week if the larger budget bill hasn't cleared the full Senate by then.

"It will not pass," she said.

House Transportation Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said Congress has a tough road ahead.

"I've been here for cliffs and crises and wars, and this is going to be the biggest mashup we've ever had since I've been here — with the debt limit, with a government shutdown, with reconciliation, and with infrastructure, and I have no idea how it all works out," DeFazio said.