Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Congress faces December pile-up as default threat looms



US Congress faces December pile-up as default threat looms

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People shop at a Walmart in Rosemead, California, on November 22, where a few empty shelves were seen in an otherwise well-stocked store amid improvements in the supply chain crisis for the end-of-year holiday season. AFP

US Congress faces December pile-up as default threat looms

US lawmakers returned to Washington on November 29 staring down a critical holiday season to-do list that juggles President Joe Biden’s domestic spending priorities with keeping the government open and averting a catastrophic debt default.

Senators are bracing for what is shaping up to be the one of the most gruelling Decembers in years, with defence funding and the expanding probe into the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill likely to add to the workload.

But the top priority is government funding, with federal agencies due to run out of cash on November 26.

A lasting deal to avoid a damaging shutdown would require agreement on spending bills for the 2022 fiscal year, as the government is still funded at levels approved during Donald Trump’s administration.

With no consensus in sight, House leaders are expected to introduce a stop-gap funding bill through January, with a vote as early as December 1, to avoid thousands of public employees being sent home without pay.

“We begin an important week for what will be an important final month of 2021 . . . With so many critical issues, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown,” the Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor.

Next up, treasury secretary Janet Yellen says the government must raise the debt ceiling by December 15 to avoid a credit default that would leave the country unable to repay debts or secure new loans.

With Wall Street and world markets watching closely, Schumer and his minority Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell remain at odds over how to handle the extension.

McConnell says the Democrats need to boost the debt limit on their own as they assemble a $1.8-trillion package of new social spending and climate programmes.

The Kentucky state Republican insisted when the fight came up in October that his senators would not help but was criticised by his own side for caving and lining up 11 Republicans to pass a temporary extension.

The Democrats point out that Republicans helped run up debts and so should help raise the ceiling in the normal way, with backing from both parties.

“You know, if the Republicans want to scrooge out on us, and increase people’s interest rates and make it hard to make car payments – go ahead, make that case,” Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told ABC on November 28.

“We’re going to stop them from doing that.”

The Senate is also due to take up the National Defence Authorisation Act, a massive bill that Congress has reliably passed for six decades.

Democrats are hoping to wave it through this week, but Republicans could scupper that timeline by demanding votes on an array of amendments from Afghanistan policy and repealing Iraq War authorisations to women registering for the military draft and the US-China relationship.

Biden heads into the New Year with support waning among independent voters – a key group that helped catapult him to the White House – over the gridlock on Capitol Hill, spiralling inflation and the stubborn pandemic.

Progressive and moderate Democrats are still fighting over crucial, high-dollar parts of Biden’s Build Back Better package, which Schumer is hoping to send back to the House for a rubber stamp before Christmas Day.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro