Senate Looks To Clear Debt Limit Bill For Obama

Congress appears on track to send President Barack Obama must-do legislation to extend Treasury’s borrowing authority without any concessions from the White House.

Senate leaders scheduled a vote Wednesday afternoon before an expected snowstorm hits the capital. The GOP-controlled House passed the measure Tuesday, 221-201, with Republicans supplying only a handful of votes.

The measure would permit the Treasury Department to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday’s legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October’s 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party’s tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters’ attention on the implementation and effects of Obama’s health care law.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a tea party favorite, forced the chamber to overcome a 60-vote filibuster threshold in order to pass the bill. That’s irking some Republicans since it’ll require at least five GOP votes to advance the bill.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government’s borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

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