US lawmakers voted Tuesday to keep federal agencies running through December 3 and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month -- although the stop-gap measure is likely dead on arrival in the Senate.
The House Democrats' interim bill, known as a "continuing resolution," includes a suspension of the US debt limit until after next year's midterm elections -- a measure that allows the United States to avoid defaulting on its loans and sending the global economy into meltdown.
But Senate Republicans argue that Democratic spending is out of control and have vowed to vote against any attempt to lift the borrowing cap -- insisting that the Democrats have enough lawmakers to pass the initiative on their own.
Not a single Republican voted for the continuing resolution, which passed 220 to 211, along party lines.
The legislation includes $28.6 billion in new disaster aid for states hit by hurricanes and wildfires, many of them Republican. It also allocates $6.3 billion for resettling Afghans evacuated after the fall of Kabul to Taliban militants.
In theory the measure would buy legislators time to negotiate full-year spending bills for the rest of fiscal 2022 -- but it is almost certain to fail in the evenly-divided upper chamber, where it would need Republican support to bag the necessary 60 out of 100 votes available.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said ahead of the House vote Republicans would support a continuing resolution including disaster aid.
"What we're not prepared to do is relieve the Democratic president, Democratic House and Democratic Senate from their governing obligation to address the debt ceiling," he told reporters.
Democratic leaders have been insisting for weeks that they won't use a process called "reconciliation" to increase the debt ceiling on a party-line vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Monday that raising the debt ceiling would simply cover spending the country has already committed to, including pandemic relief that was supported by both parties.
An analysis of Treasury Department data shows however that Republicans accrued $7.8 trillion in new debt during the Trump administration -- more than a quarter of the total -- in just four years.
The country has added a fraction of that -- around $600 billion -- since Biden's inauguration on January 20.