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Congress returns to full plate of high-profile issues

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Congress returns to full plate of high-profile issues
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will play a key role in critical bills facing the Senate. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- From the debt ceiling to President Joe Biden's $1.7 trillion "Build Back Better" budget, Congress is set to spend the final month of 2021 on the high wire as members deal with numerous pressure-packed issues.

In October, the Senate voted to kick the debt ceiling can down the road, approving a temporary extension until December after Republicans threatened to filibuster its increase because of the Democrats' efforts to pass Biden's agenda bill through the budget reconciliation process.

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Now, the Senate must pass a new debt ceiling bill by Dec. 15.

Biden's climate and social spending bill, which Republicans have dubbed "Build Back Broke," reached the Senate after the House passed it. Changes are expected to be made to the bill in an effort to win the support of two moderate Democrats -- Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

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The Democrats will need all 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris' vote as a Senate tiebreaker to get the massive social agenda bill passed and to Biden's desk.

The Senate also is expected to take on the $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House easily in September but had not been taken up in the upper chamber.

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Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has balked at the size of the defense bill.

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"Strange how, even as we end the longest war in our nation's history, the war in Afghanistan, concerns about the deficit and national debt seem to melt away under the influence of the powerful military-industrial complex," Sanders said, according to NBC News.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she believes the Senate will be able to handle multiple priorities without dropping the ball.

"When I look at this drama in the next month, I break it down into a mini-series," she told ABC's 'This Week" on Sunday. "And the first part is the defense bill and a bridge to the budget. A vast majority of senators support that. We'll get that done.

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"Second thing, the debt ceiling. You know, if the Republicans want to scrooge out on us, and increase people's interest rates and make it hard to make car payments -- go ahead, make that case. We're going to stop them from doing that."

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