The Democratic-led Senate on Thursday approved must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, putting off one Washington showdown even as others loom in coming weeks.
The vote, 64-34, sends the measure to President Barack Obama, who said he will sign it into law.
The measure would suspend the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing through May 18, allowing about $450 billion in new debt to be added to the federal ledger, according to an estimate by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The Republican-controlled House passed the legislation last week. (Read More: House Votes to Suspend Debt Ceiling Until May)
Without the bill, the government faced a default on its obligations by as early as mid-February.
"Failure to pass this bill will set off an unpredictable financial panic that would plunge not only the United States, but much of the world, back into recession," Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said before the vote. "Every single American would feel the economic impact."
The short-term increase in the borrowing cap was the brainchild of House Republicans, who wanted to re-sequence a series of upcoming budget battles, taking the threat of a potentially devastating government default off the table and instead setting up a clash in March over automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and many domestic programs.