The Final Showdown? Why the Coming Budget Crisis May Be the Worst

Swampland

Over the past three years, America has been brought again and again to the brink of fiscal disaster by a dysfunctional Congress, only to have negotiators talk the sides down. This time, America’s luck may run out.

Congress returns this week to its long-running civil war over the budget. By Sept. 30, lawmakers must pass a stopgap bill to keep the government funded. And around Oct. 15, Congress faces a deadline to lift the limit on U.S. government borrowing. With just two weeks until a partial government shutdown, and a month until the U.S. loses the ability to pay its bills, Democrats and Republicans seem further apart than ever, and this time their leaders may be powerless to prevent catastrophe.

House Republicans made the first move on Wednesday morning, when Republican leaders yielded to the demands of their backbenchers by announcing they would vote Friday on a temporary funding bill…

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