U.S. Senate approves temporary lift to debt ceiling, averting default


By Richard Cowan and Makini Brice 

  WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation to temporarily raise the federal government’s $ 28.4 trillion debt limit and avoid the risk of a historic default later this month, but it put off until early December a decision on a longer-lasting remedy. 

  The Senate voted 50-48 to pass the bill following weeks of partisan fighting. 

  The $ 480 billion increase to the current $ 28.4 trillion debt limit is expected to be exhausted by Dec. 3, the same day that funding for most federal programs also expires under a stop-gap measure passed earlier this month following another partisan standoff. 

  That means that over the next eight weeks, the bitterly divided Congress will have the twin challenges of finding a middle ground on agency spending through September 2022 — ranging from education and foreign aid programs to immigration enforcement and airport security — and avoiding yet another debt limit meltdown. 

  The vote followed a months-long standoff bringing the nation close to the Oct. 18 date that the Treasury Department forecast it would no longer be able to meet its obligations. 

  “Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. 

  The Senate-passed bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be approved. It was unclear how quickly the House might act. 

  (Reporting by Susan Cornwell, David Morgan and Makini Brice; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler)