Emergency legislation to allow the government to borrow more money headed toward passage in the Senate Tuesday with just hours to spare before the national debt bumps against its ceiling. Expected approval sends the bill to President Barack Obama, averting a potentially disastrous, first-ever government default and making a down payment toward taming out-of-control budget deficits.
"Finally Washington is taking responsibility for spending money it doesn't have," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said at the start of debate.
The legislation, which easily passed the House on Monday, is virtually assured to clear the Senate at midday noon by a bipartisan tally. The White House promises that Obama will quickly sign the measure into law. Obama planned to issue a statement after the vote.
The legislation pairs an increase in the government's borrowing cap with promises of more than $2 trillion of budget cuts over the upcoming decade. Its passage caps a long, difficult battle between tea party-powered House Republicans and Obama - with House Speaker John Boehner caught in the middle more than once.
After months of fiercely partisan struggle, the House's top Republican and Democratic leaders swung behind the bill, ratifying a deal sealed Sunday night with a phone call from Boehner to Obama.