The U.S. Congress passed legislation increasing the U.S. debt limit by $290 billion before recessing for the year.
The Senate vote today was 60-39 to raise the limit on federal borrowing to $12.39 trillion, enough to tide the government over for about two months. The House approved the legislation Dec. 16. The measure, which would be the fourth debt-limit increase in 18 months, now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The Senate’s Democratic leaders had to settle for the short-term increase following conflicting demands among their rank-and-file over proposals to reduce the government’s budget deficit. Some lawmakers threatened to withhold their votes for a bigger increase in the debt ceiling unless Congress created a commission to cut government spending.
Raising the limit is a “serious and a sobering reminder we have work to do in restoring fiscal balance and discipline to government,” Montana Democrat Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a written statement.
Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, criticized the Democratic majority for its handling of the debt.
“While it is critical to protect the government’s ability to meet its financial obligations, Congress should not consider passing a long-term debt-limit increase unless the legislation also includes enforceable and meaningful measures to curb out- of-control government borrowing and spending,” Gregg said in a written statement.