Obama signs increase in U.S. debt ceiling

RANCHO MIRAGE, California Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:29pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before signing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour starting next year, during an event at the White House in Washington February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before signing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour starting next year, during an event at the White House in Washington February 12, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - President Barack Obama signed legislation on Saturday that raises the U.S. debt limit through March 2015, taking the politically volatile issue off the table with congressional elections coming up this November.

Without an increase in the statutory debt limit, the U.S. government would have soon defaulted on some of its obligations and would have had to shut down some programs, an historic event that would have caused severe market turmoil.

On a long holiday weekend in a desert resort area in southern California, Obama put his signature on the legislation without fanfare, while behind closed doors at the Sunnylands retreat.

It was a quiet end to the latest chapter in what has been one of the more challenging aspects of his presidency, as he and his fellow Democrats have repeatedly sparred with Republicans over increasing the country's borrowing authority.

Extending the debt ceiling to March 2015 means the issue may not get caught up in election-year politics.

Congress had given final approval to the increase after final action in the Senate on Wednesday, but only over the objections of Texas Republican Ted Cruz, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement. It appeared at first there would not be enough Republicans to join the Democratic majority and advance the bill.

But a decision by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn, who are both up for re-election this year, to vote to advance the measure ensured that it would survive.

The House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a majority, passed the measure in a close vote on Tuesday after Republicans dropped the confrontational tactics they had used in similar votes over the past three years.

The advance of the measure has brought relief to financial markets. Investors were becoming increasingly jittery ahead of February 27, the date by which the U.S. Treasury had been warning its borrowing authority would be exhausted, putting federal payments at risk.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, editing by G Crosse)

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Comments (8)
TheNewWorld wrote:
As 2008 candidate Barrack Obama said, ““The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child.

That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”

Obama is irresponsible and unpatriotic according to his own standards.

Feb 15, 2014 6:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
As President..I wouldn’t have. I would have held the debt ceiling right where it is and mandated that every government department hold to the line on where they are right now on spending. No automatic increases. No fan of the Republican’s but Obama isn’t showing much leadership here.

Feb 15, 2014 6:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
sjfella wrote:
The freaking politicians still don’t get it.

Feb 15, 2014 7:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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