Kelsey Snell

Democrats in Congress are attempting a seemingly impossible feat: trimming a trillion or more dollars from their plan for passing much of President Biden's agenda without undermining the policies they've promised to voters.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is calling on Democrats to work together to pass a major spending package before the end of this month as part of a broader push to advance major elements of President Biden's domestic agenda.

Updated October 7, 2021 at 8:36 PM ET

The Senate has passed a bill to increase the federal debt ceiling, after weeks of tense cross-aisle negotiations regarding the looming threat of the country defaulting on its debt.

The legislation was approved Thursday night along party lines, with a simple majority. An earlier procedural vote required Republicans to get to 60 votes. It got 61. House approval is still needed.

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Congress is edging closer to a solution on the debt limit, but solution is honestly probably generous because they're just buying time to avoid defaulting on America's debts.

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I'm Ailsa Chang in Los Angeles with a story today about a long-running drama, granted a somewhat wonky drama that's been haunting Capitol Hill for weeks now.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

Updated October 6, 2021 at 6:25 PM ET

Senate leaders are working to finalize a deal to avoid the immediate threat of federal default by punting a political battle to December.

Democrats say they are willing to accept an offer from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for a short-term lift of the debt limit. But they say they remain unwilling to accept a related demand to use McConnell's preferred procedure to pass a longer suspension of the borrowing cap.

Updated September 30, 2021 at 7:33 PM ET

President Biden has signed a short-term funding bill, avoiding a partial government shutdown that would have begun at midnight.

The Senate and House sprinted Thursday afternoon to pass the legislation, which will keep the government funded through Dec. 3.

The bill also includes $28.6 billion for communities hit by natural disasters over the past 18 months and $6.3 billion to help support resettlement for Afghan refugees.

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The White House says it's a precarious day in Congress for President Biden's agenda. Lawmakers and the White House are working to reach huge deals. Some could impact the nation's economic standing.

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This is a very high-stakes week for Joe Biden's presidency. Democrats in Congress have a deadline to avoid a government shutdown, and they need to agree among themselves to pass Biden's domestic agenda. Here's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on ABC's "This Week."

Updated September 27, 2021 at 2:10 PM ET

Top congressional Democrats worked through the weekend to untangle a snarl of competing demands from members of their own party on fiscal issues while continuing to battle Republicans over the nation's debt.

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The White House and congressional Democrats have reached an agreement on a framework to pay for a final spending package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Thursday.

But that's where the details stopped. Pelosi and Schumer didn't offer any specifics on the framework or the amount of revenue they seek to get to pay for the measure.

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Democrats in Washington are working against a rapidly approaching deadline to end a standoff with Republicans that could force a partial government shutdown and a panic over the nation's credit rating.

"We're calm and everybody's good and our work's almost done," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said as she returned from a meeting with the president at the White House. "We're in good shape."

Congress has fewer than 10 days to pass legislation to prevent another partial government shutdown, and Democrats hope to use the deadline pressure to force Republicans to help them pass a critical suspension of the federal borrowing cap.

Republican leaders have flatly rejected that plan, leaving Congress in a familiar political standoff over spending and debt that could have serious economic consequences.

Democrats are moving ahead with a bill that would both extend current spending levels through Dec. 3 and suspend the cap on federal debt through the end of 2022.

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This story is part of "The Basics" from The NPR Politics Podcast, where we regularly explain a key idea behind the news we talk about on our show. Subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast here.

Democrats hope to unwind many of the tax cuts Republicans enacted under former President Donald Trump as a way to pay for the majority of the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently under consideration in Congress.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., released details Monday of a plan that includes increasing the top corporate tax rate to 26.5%, up from the current rate of 21%, and restoring the top rate to 39.6% for individuals earning more than $400,000 and married couples earning over $450,000.

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Updated August 24, 2021 at 5:27 PM ET

The House of Representatives narrowly approved a budget resolution that provides the framework for a $3.5 trillion spending deal following an impasse between House leaders and centrist Democrats that threatened to derail progress on the vast majority of President Biden's domestic agenda.

Tuesday's vote was 220-212 along party lines.

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Updated August 10, 2021 at 3:52 PM ET

The Senate voted 69-30 Tuesday to approve a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a historic piece of legislation that could reshape American lives for decades.

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The Senate is poised to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill today that Democrats say is just the start. They plan to move quickly from what is a bipartisan victory to an entirely partisan spending plan.

Updated August 9, 2021 at 9:28 AM ET

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has released the text of a $3.5 trillion budget framework that is meant to give Democrats the opportunity to approve major federal investments in child care, family leave and climate change provisions without support of congressional Republicans.

In a letter sent Monday morning, Schumer told Democrats that the goal is for committees to write legislation to fulfill the spending targets by Sept. 15.

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