WASHINGTON -- Congress gave final approval Wednesday to legislation allowing more federal borrowing to pay the nation's bills, ending the last three years of partisan brinkmanship over the debt limit, but not without a last-minute protest led by tea party Republicans in the Senate.
Overcoming a crucial hurdle, the Senate voted, 67-31, to advance the bill, only after top GOP leaders switched their positions to push past hard-line Republicans in a dramatic hourlong ordeal. The Senate easily adopted the bill on a final party-line vote, 55-43, with two Republicans absent as a snowstorm was poised to hit the capital.
The bill had been swiftly approved by the House this week in a turnaround for Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who risked calls for his ouster after he abandoned his majority to rely mostly on Democrats to pass the bill.
President Obama is expected to quickly sign the legislation well before the Feb. 27 deadline set by the Treasury Department, which had said it would run out of money by then to pay debts.
Even as public concern over the nation's $17.3-trillion debt has faded from its peak a few years ago, Wednesday's vote was not without a final fight as the tea party wing attempted to prevent more borrowing.
Defying GOP leaders, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas led a divisive campaign to block the bill with a filibuster, putting pressure on fellow Republicans to help carry the vote with Democrats, who have a 55-vote working majority.