House approves $290 billion increase in debt limit

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 4:27 PM

The House has approved legislation giving the federal government the ability to borrow a whopping $290 billion to finance its operations for just six additional weeks.

The vote sends the must-pass bill to the Senate, which is expected to approve it as its last act before adjourning for the year. The alternative would be a market-rattling, first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

The measure is needed as a result of the out-of-control budget deficit, which registered $1.4 trillion for the budget year that ended in September. The current debt ceiling is $12.1 trillion.

Democrats had hoped to pass a far larger increase of almost $2 trillion to avoid another vote before next year's midterm elections.