Congress Ups Nat'l Debt Ceiling to $12.4T
Bill would authorize Treasury to fund gov through Feb.
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 24, 2009 11:51 AM CST
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, listens as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, drives home a point while answering questions on Capitol Hill in Washington today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Senate voted today to raise the ceiling on the government debt to $12.4 trillion, a massive increase over the current limit and a political problem that President Barack Obama has promised to address next year. The Senate's rare Christmas Eve vote, 60-39, follows House passage last week and raises the debt ceiling by $290 billion. The vote split mainly down party lines.

There was one defection on each side, by senators whose seats will be on the ballot next year: GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio voted for the increase, and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana against. "Congress has not adopted a credible process to restrain spending and eliminate red ink," Bayh said a statement after the vote. The bill permits the Treasury Department to issue enough bonds to fund the government's operations and programs until mid-February.