WASHINGTON — The U.S. Congress approved legislation on Wednesday to increase the country’s debt limit for a year, bowing to President Barack Obama’s demands for a debt limit increase without any conditions after a dramatic Senate vote.
Final action in the Senate came only after a hour long nail-biting procedural tally forced by the objections of Republican Ted Cruz, a conservative Tea Party favorite, in which it appeared at first there would not be enough Republicans to join the Democratic majority and advance the bill.
A decision by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, who are both up for reelection this year, to vote to advance to advance the measure appeared to kick the procedural tally over the needed 60 votes.
After a few more tense minutes of huddling on the Senate floor, several other Republicans changed their votes to follow their leadership. In the end, 12 Republicans joined Democrats in helping the bill across the procedural hurdle on a vote of 67-31.
The measure, which then passed the Senate on a final, party-line vote of 55-43, now goes to Obama to be signed into law.
The House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a majority, passed the measure in a close vote a day earlier, after Republicans dropped the confrontational tactics they used in similar votes over the past three years.