National

Jan 31, 2013 4:06 PM by AP, posted by Kirsten Bennett

Congress passes bill to extend borrowing authority

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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