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Biden agenda

Biden adds 'urgent' funding request for natural disaster relief, Afghan resettlement to busy September calendar

The White House on Tuesday sent Congress an "urgent" request for tens of billions in emergency funding for Afghan resettlement and relief for flooding, droughts, hurricane damage, wildfires, and other natural disasters that have directly affected a third of U.S. counties this summer. The funds — $14 billion for natural disasters that hit before Hurricane Ida, about $10 billion of Ida relief, and $6.4 billion for helping Afghan allies settle in the U.S. — would be added to a stopgap spending bill that needs to be passed before Oct. 1 to avert a partial government shutdown. 

Democrats are discussing raising the debt limit in the stopgap continuing resolution, too, fixing another one of the vexing issues facing Congress in a busy legislative September. The House also needs to pass a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package that has bipartisan support, and Democrats in both chambers hope to negotiate and pass a broad social and climate policy bill worth up to $3.5 trillion. 

Republicans have criticized the proposed spending blitz and upper-bracket tax hikes to pay for it, but President Biden's "special requests will increase the political pain for any lawmaker planning to oppose the funding patch Congress needs to pass this month," Politico suggests. And if Democrats throw in the debt limit increase, "that would further squeeze Republicans who have pledged zero cooperation as the Treasury Department nears a breaking point on the nation's borrowing limit. The combination would present a triple threat, daring GOP lawmakers to go on record in opposition to aid for disaster-hit communities, staving off a debt default that could throw financial markets into chaos, and preventing a government shutdown."