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Budget Update: House Passes Bill that Combines Short Term Funding with Lifting Debt Limit

September 22, 2021

Congress continues to inch closer to a number of key deadlines in the coming weeks. Most importantly, government funding expires on September 30 and the federal debt limit will be reached sometime in October. If Congress fails to pass appropriations and lift the debt limit, the government will shut down and the Treasury will be unable to meet its financial obligations. 

On September 21, the House of Representatives passed a bill combining short-term government funding with lifting the debt limit. All Democrats supported the bill and all Republicans opposed it. The measure now heads to the Senate, where it would require a bipartisan vote to pass. Republicans have stated that they will not support a debt limit increase (despite recognizing its necessity), instead claiming that Democrats should be responsible for it because they plan to enact significant new government spending. If they cannot gain Republican support, Democrats will have to include a debt limit increase in their budget reconciliation package, adding to ongoing internal debates about the size and scope of the legislation meant to enact President Biden’s major priorities on a party-line basis.  

FABBS has joined community partners in calling for Congress to honor the regular appropriations process. Short-term funding measures, known as Continuing Resolutions (CRs), interrupt agency plans and jeopardize work that has already been done to support funding increases and policy wins for the behavioral and brain sciences. However, it is unclear how Congress will overcome current inter- and intra- party disputes to pass legislation ensuring the government remains open and solvent. Failure to do either could cause serious disruptions to the economy and to government operations, including the federal research enterprise. 

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