Both chambers of Congress approved a "clean" debt ceiling bill, sending the bill to the President for a signature.
The Senate approved the bill to raise the debt ceiling 55-43 on Feb. 12. The bill raises the debt ceiling through March 15, 2015. The chamber had voted 67-31 earlier in the day to advance the legislation and avoid a filibuster.
In a narrow vote, the House voted 221-201 to approve the bill with no spending cuts or other policy attachments. The House vote followed a short-lived fight led by the GOP to attach other unrelated measures to raising the debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress that it had to raise the debt ceiling by Feb. 27, after which the country would have "only the cash on hand and any incoming revenue to meet our country's commitments."
Tea Party lawmakers, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) previously led an unsuccessful effort at the end of 2013 to block raising the debt ceiling unless Obamacare was repealed. The failed effort left Obamacare virtually unscathed but caused the GOP's approval rating to plunge 20%.
President Obama signed a $1 trillion spending bill Jan. 17, which provided the details to a budget deal first reached in Dec. 2013. It funded the government until Oct. 2014 and avoided another shutdown, but did not raise the debt ceiling or do anything to trim the nation's rising $17.3 trillion debt. It was the first budget deal since 2011.
A debt ceiling threat by Republicans in 2011 caused the U.S. to lose its top credit rating with S&P. Raising the debt ceiling does not add to the nation's debt, it merely allows Congress to pay for spending it has already approved. Defaulting on the nation's debt could trigger a recession similar to or worse than that of 2008.
If you don't have a Circa account yet, download and sign up using the free app for iPhone.