Congress passes bill to extend borrowing authority

Congress passes bill to extend federal borrowing authority and avert default; Obama to sign

Associated Press
Congress sends bill to Obama averting govt default
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FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, file photo, the dome of the Capitol is reflected in a skylight of the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington. The Senate Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, took up must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, putting off one Washington showdown even as others loom in coming weeks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress has approved must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, averting a first-ever government default that had loomed as early as mid-February.

The 64-34 vote in the Senate on Thursday sends the measure to President Barack Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.

The legislation would temporarily suspend the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing. Experts say that would allow the government to borrow about $450 billion to meet interest payments and obligations like Social Security benefits and government salaries.

Calculations by a Washington-based think tank, the Bipartisan Policy Center, indicate that the deadline for Congress to act again to prevent default would likely not come until August.

The Republican-controlled House passed the legislation last week.

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