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Senator Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), facing one of the toughest re-election campaigns next year, said that while he wants bipartisan debt increases, “at the same time, we can’t not allow the government to close its doors. ” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Said it was not worth pressuring Republicans to change their minds on the debt ceiling: “We absolutely want to avoid a shutdown, at all cost.”

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Said the party “was not going to give up” after calling for an interim finance bill passed by the House with an increase in the debt limit, a measure that is doomed to failure in the upper house: “There are alternatives to trying to get the debt ceiling and the [spending bill] ended. I don’t know what strategy they will use next. But I know there are other strategies if that doesn’t work.

Early clues that Democrats are emerging from a fiscal cliff show the party’s distrust of throwing even more chaos into what has already turned into a calamitous September. They are already trying to juggle internal struggles over the size and scope of a historically significant spending bill that includes tax increases on the rich, and adding a stop would only complicate that effort. , not to mention the Democrats’ efforts to defend their weak majorities. year.

“We are going to do everything humanly possible to make sure there is no stopping,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “The question is, do we have enough Republican colleagues to join us? “

There won’t be much time to maneuver. The Senate could consider the government finance bill passed by the House, which lasts until Dec.3 and suspends the debt ceiling for a year, starting this weekend, although Democratic sources have said that a vote would probably take place on Monday. The government is expected to close its doors four days later, on October 1.

“I don’t think Democrats want to shut down government. I don’t think we want to shut down government, ”said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), adding that the House bill“ will fail. And then we’ll be in a mad rush to get by in the short term [spending bill] who does not have the debt ceiling.

If Democrats come up with a spending bill that suppresses the rising debt, they should pass it quickly and may need the GOP’s cooperation to organize that vote before the closing deadline. They would also need the House to act quickly. This move would almost certainly lead to the debt ceiling conflict in October; without action, the debt ceiling is expected to be exceeded by November and lead to a US default.

If Democrats pursue Plan B, they should decide whether they should just delay their debt fight by passing a two- or three-week government funding bill to align their two deadlines – or pass a funding bill. longer that is decoupled from the struggle debt. Meanwhile, Democrats are divided over whether to include funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in the spending bill. Senate Speaker Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Said he opposed its inclusion.

And while Congress can avoid a shutdown next week, it will still have to tackle the debt ceiling. Democrats could hold a stand-alone debt ceiling vote closer to the expected default date, in hopes U.S. businesses will lean on Republicans to change their minds and oppose any rise.

They could also try to push through a party-based increase through budget reconciliation, a cumbersome but filibuster process Republicans are asking Democrats to pursue. Some Democrats are unsure how long that would take and how viable it really is.

“I guess all options are on the table,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who said he had heard no internal discussions about a back-up plan. “There is some danger in [Republicans’] position, to the economy and to many innocent people.

Democrats had previously decided not to pursue raising the debt ceiling without GOP votes, pushing instead to avoid default on a bipartisan basis. Some Democrats, like Kaine, now admit the party should have gone it alone.

“I wish we would have included the debt ceiling piece in the reconciliation bill, because I’m frankly just nervous about whether the Republicans will follow suit,” Kaine said. “Of course, if the shoe was on the other foot, the Democrats would follow.”

In the House, Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) Confirmed his staff were exploring the option of reconciliation if Democrats were forced to pursue it. And if there is a stoppage while the two sides fight over the debt, Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) predicted that “it will be short-lived.”

For now, however, many Democrats want to maintain their party’s stance, arguing that acquiescing to Republicans’ opposition to the debt ceiling would set a terrible precedent for future budget fights.

“Betting on the Republicans to do the right thing is an incredible long shot. And treating Republicans’ bad faith and recklessness as if it were a fixed aspect of American policy and asking Democrats how they are going to navigate is a recipe for further hostage-taking ”, said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “I’m not for giving in here.”

Some Democrats are less sure Congress can avoid a shutdown next week. And others even privately argue that a brief shutdown could be worth it in the short term if it gets Republicans to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling on a bipartisan basis.

Many party members view the GOP as a building, giving them few good options to raise the debt ceiling beyond the bill passed by the House on Tuesday and little hope for a different outcome in a few. weeks.

“We always do this fucking dance,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “I don’t know if people are going to keep their minds sane and do what needs to be done, or shut it down. It’s just a ridiculous exercise … I can’t even compare it to anything I do on the farm which is so stupid.

Sarah Ferris and Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.

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