Will no drama debt ceiling increase be bullish?

The Senate plans to vote today on legislation to raise the U.S. debt limit without conditions and send themeasure to President Barack Obama, marking a win for Democrats who refused to consider Republican conditions.

Senators will vote on the debt limit measure at about 1:45 p.m. Washington time, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

Under an agreement reached today, the measure will require 60 votes to advance to an immediate vote on final passage, meaning Democrats will need support from at least five Republicans. Democrats control 55 seats in the 100-member chamber.

“We should wrap this up today,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “I hope we can vote on this and vote soon.”

The Senate’s action, which would clear the measure for Obama’s signature, comes a day after the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the bill with just 28 Republican votes.

The bill, which the House passed 221-201, would suspend the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015, more than four months after the November congressional elections.

House Speaker John Boehner and members of his leadership team were among the Republican votes in favor of the bill. The Ohio Republican’s decision to drop demands for spending cuts or policy conditions that prompted previous debt limit showdowns drew ire from groups aligned with the small-government, Tea- Party wing of Republicans.

‘Difficult’ Job

Reid praised Boehner today, saying the speaker has “one of the most difficult jobs in Washington, especially when you look at the caucus that he has to deal with.”

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican aligned with the Tea Party, said yesterday he would push to require a 60-vote threshold in the chamber for a debt ceiling increase.

“Republicans in the Senate and House should stand united” Cruz told reporters. “Stop digging the debt-hole deeper and deeper.”

Republicans’ divisions on spending helped provoke a 16-day partial government shutdown in October. The divide weakened Boehner’s negotiating position with Obama and Reid, who stuck to their refusal to consider conditions for raising the debt limit.

Cruz was a leader in the push last year to demand ending funding for the 2010 health-care law as a condition of financing the government. That effort eventually failed.

A suspension of the U.S. debt limit enacted by Congress in October expired Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said last week that borrowing authority may not last past Feb. 27.

Rates fell on Treasury bills due on March 6, maturing after the Feb. 27 date on which Lew said the U.S. would exhaust extraordinary measures to keep under the debt limit. The rate fell by 50 percent to 0.025 basis points.

 

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