U.S. Congress approves bill to increase debt limit
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Congress approved a bill that would extend the federal government’s borrowing limit until May.
The Senate voted 64-34 in favor of a measure suspending the nation’s borrowing authority until May 18. The bill has already been approved by the House and will be sent to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to sign it into law.
Last week, the GOP-dominated House of Representatives approved the bill by a 285-144 vote.
The vote effectively put to rest, for the time being, a probable showdown that would have put the credit of the U.S. government into further risk.
Over the last month, the Treasury Department has been shuffling federal accounts to ensure interest payments that the government owed to creditors are funded after the borrowing limit had officially been breached.
The Obama administration warned politicians that by the middle of February, the Treasury would have ran out of such options and the government would have been forced to default for the first time.
The amount of debt limit increase is estimated to be at $450 billion, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The bill, initially pushed by House Republicans, included a provision requiring both chambers of Congress to pass a federal budget by April 15 otherwise they will have their salaries held in escrow until they pass a budget or the end of the current Congress in 2015.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that the provision is simply a political gimmick, although it did enjoy bipartisan support.