WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 - The Senate approved Wednesday, on a party-line vote of 55-43, legislation that would lift the nation’s debt ceiling until March 2015 and avert a potential government default at the end of this month.

The legislation now heads to President Obama for his expected signature.

The bill received the support of 53 Democrats and two Independents, while 43 Republicans opposed the measure. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., were not present for the vote.

The Senate approval came one day after the House approved the bill Tuesday night, on a 221-201 vote. The surprise vote came as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, dropped previous demands to tie the bill to military retirement pensions or other offsets. In support of the bill were 193 Democrats and 28 Republicans, while in opposition, there were 199 Republicans and two Democrats.

Boehner told reporters Tuesday that he had no choice but to pursue a “clean” bill. “When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing,” he said. “We’ve seen that before, and we’ve seen it again.”

Before final passage, the Senate defeated a potential filibuster threat from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, which required 60 votes. The cloture motion was approved on a 67-31 vote after several Republicans changed their votes. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said Congress had until about Feb. 27 to address the issue.


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