Congress was formally in recess last week although committee work continued. But they are back in session this week and they face a daunting task as time is running out for them to finish work on what is considered to be must-pass legislation.
That legislation includes passing a massive defense policy bill, finish work on a social spending bill that includes reducing the cost of prescription drugs and passing a bill to avoid a U.S. credit default – all by their self-imposed deadline of Dec. 3.
Already some senators are anticipating a short-term government funding fix for a few weeks, potentially right up until Christmas. And in a worst-case scenario, the debt limit would need to be raised right around that same time — something Republicans have announced they will not help with.
Unfortunately, this scenario is nothing new. Last year, under Republican leadership, the Senate was not able to pass a spending deal until in late December and had to work on New Year’s Day 2021 to finish the defense authorization bill.
It takes 60 votes to fund the government, but Democrats and Republicans are nowhere near a funding deal that would extend through the end of the 2022 fiscal year. That means Congress will almost certainly have to pass a stopgap bill and perhaps even return in early 2022 and pass funding legislation for the rest of the fiscal year.