WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to pass a short-term suspension of the debt limit, warding off another showdown over raising the nation's borrowing limit and turning its attention to two more looming fiscal deadlines: deep sequestration-related cuts and funding for the federal government.
The legislation passed the upper chamber by a vote count of 64 to 34, and will raise the debt ceiling by however many bills the government racks up over the next 90 days. The Senate also rejected a series of amendments that would have attached conditions to the bill, such as pairing the debt limit hike with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts and prioritizing how the government pays its bills.
The bill contains one caveat, a provision introduced by the House GOP that would force the Senate to write a budget by withholding lawmakers' pay if they fail to pass a spending resolution. Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said her committee planned to draft a budget this year anyway.
But while lawmakers expressed optimism that the debt ceiling deal would enable the country to meet its financial obligations until at least May 19, there was little hope for an agreement over how to deal with the next fiscal issue -- $1.2 trillion of sequestration-related cuts that will automatically kick in on March 1.