EXPLAINER: What's behind all the drama in Congress?

EXPLAINER: What's behind all the drama in Congress?



WASHINGTON (AP) — The drama and deadlines driving action on Capitol Hill right now can be disorienting. Democrats are trying to pass more than $4 trillion in infrastructure and social programs at the center of President Joe Biden’s agenda — and at the same time avert a government shutdown and prevent a federal default that could send financial markets crashing.

“The next few days will be a time of intensity,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues over the weekend. That might be an understatement.

Adding to the challenges for Democrats are their thin advantages in both chambers, the end of the fiscal year and intraparty disagreements over the size and scope of Biden's signature social spending and climate legislation. Republican leaders have encouraged their members to reject almost all of it, leaving Democrats to go it alone.

Biden has been meeting with fellow Democrats as they navigate the political obstacle course.

“We’ve got three things to do: the debt ceiling, the continuing resolution and the two pieces of legislation,” Biden said Monday. “If we do that, the country’s going to be in great shape.”

A guide to understanding it all:


Averting a government shutdown at midnight on Sept. 30 — the end of the fiscal year — has become an anxiety-inducing ritual in Washington. This year is no different.

The House last week passed a measue to keep the government open and suspend the debt limit by a party-line vote of 220-211. The Senate was to hold a procedural vote on that bill Monday evening, but Republicans were expected to block it after Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said his members wouldn't help raise the debt limit.

One possible path to avoiding a shutdown: Democrats could separate government funding from the debt limit....

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