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| 1 minute read

Congress passes bill to avoid debt crash, obstacles still ahead

The worst has been avoided: Congress has come to an agreement and passed a debt ceiling bill to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations to contractors, employees, and everyday Americans. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle hustled for votes to beat the June 5 deadline, finally sending their bill to President Joe Biden on June 1. 

Now that Congress has passed the deal, and averted the worst impacts of debt ceiling default, what comes next? 

This deal will clear the way for Congress to advance its normal slate of must-pass bills already piling up: 

  • The annual defense policy bill (National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA) 

  • The Farm Bill setting agriculture policy for the next five years is due by September 30

  • Government-wide funding bills are due by September 30

Federal permitting authorities may also speed energy and infrastructure projects under the deal, though bipartisan congressional leaders plan to work on larger reforms this summer. 

The debt ceiling bill forces Congress to maintain relatively flat federal spending for the next two years, even as the nation struggles with high inflation. This has the potential to undercut certain priorities of the Biden Administration like improving infrastructure, maintaining defense spending and technological investments, unless the Administration is willing to make cuts elsewhere that would satisfy a Republican-led House of Representatives determined to rein in government spending.

The fight over the debt ceiling has made for some strange bedfellows in the process. After vocal opposition from members of the Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, Democrats joined with Republicans in the House to not only pass the rule, but the bill itself, stoking divisions in both parties along critical issue areas. Republicans in opposition believe the bill lacks the weight of reforms included in the initial Limit, Save, Grow Act while Progressive members felt that not enough investments were being made in social safety net programs and opposed work requirements being placed on SNAP and TANF programs. 

As the next slate of must-pass legislation comes to the floor, it will be interesting to see how the divisions created in both parties impact negotiations and votes for legislation moving forward.


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