Obama signs debt limit increase into law

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (PNA/Xinhua) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday signed a bill that lifts the country’s debt ceiling through March 15, 2015, declaring a halt of the fierce bipartisan contention on the issue in a year of Congressional election.

Obama signed the bill during a weekend golf vacation in Southern California, the White House said in a statement.

The House and the Senate voted on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, allowing the Treasury to borrow as needed to fulfill the payment obligations. The votes were generally carried by Democrats in both chambers.

It signifies a retreat from a long-held Republican strategy of seeking concessions in exchange for a debt-limit increase, as the GOP can not afford the cost of being responsible for a government default which will be catastrophic for its votes in the midterm election.

It also delivers victory to Democrats who have demanded a debt limit hike without conditions.

A suspension of the debt limit enacted by the Congress in October expired on Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said last week extraordinary measures which can be used to slow the default risk may be exhausted on Feb. 27 and the borrowing authority may not go beyond that day.

Without an increase in the statutory borrowing limit, the federal government would face the threat of a historic default that could wreak havoc on global financial markets and hurt economic recovery.(PNA/Xinhua)