BUSINESS

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

01/31/2013 04:07 EST | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 EDT
WASHINGTON - 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.