Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin, File - 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, …more
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress passed must-do legislation Thursday to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, averting a first-ever governmentdefault that had loomed as early as mid-February.
The 64-34 vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate sent the measure to President Barack Obama, who has said he will sign it. The Republican-led House passed the legislation last week.
The legislation would temporarily suspend the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing, which experts say would allow the government to borrow about $450 billion to meet interest payments and obligations like Social Security benefits and government salaries.
The deadline for Congress to act again to prevent default would likely not come until August, according to calculations by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank.
Without the bill, the Treasury Department says, the government would default on its obligations by as early as mid-February.
"Failure to pass this bill will set off an unpredictable financial panic that would plunge not only the United States, but much of the world, back into recession," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. "Every single American would feel the economic impact."