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WASHINGTON: Democratic congressional leaders on Monday unveiled plans to suspend the nation's borrowing limit, following a White House warning of "economic catastrophe" unless that ceiling is raised. The legislation also would fund the government through the end of the year after the current budget lapses on September 30.

But the fate of the plan is unclear since Republicans have vowed to withhold support for raising the debt ceiling, which is needed to fund spending already approved by lawmakers, including the massive rescue packages rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur," Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.

They warned that "a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession."

Democrats have the majority in both houses of Congress, but the slim margin in the Senate means they will need some Republican support to push it through, since a single Senator can block any legislation that has less than 60 votes.

The measure would suspend the debt limit through December 2022 - after the midterm congressional elections.

It also would keep the government running through the end of the year while legislators continue to debate two massive spending bills - an eight-year, $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and a 10-year, $3.5 trillion package with a host of social programs, largely paid for by rolling back tax cuts.

Schumer and Pelosi said the measure unveiled Monday would avoid "an unnecessary government shutdown," and called it "must-pass legislation."

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