Bush to sign debt limit increase within days
President Bush will sign into law by Monday a measure authorizing an $800 billion increase in the credit limit of the United States, the White House said.
In a statement issued late on Thursday after Congress gave its final approval to increase the limit to a new $8.184 trillion ceiling, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the legislation "was important to protect the full faith and credit of the United States."
"The president intends to sign it into law before the close of business on Monday," McClellan said in the statement.
The statement was issued from Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, as the president prepared to attend a weekend summit of Pacific rim leaders in Santiago, Chile.
The Republican-controlled House voted 208-204, largely along party lines. Senate approval came on Wednesday.
Democrats said the debt limit increase, the third in as many years, was necessitated by Bush's "irresponsible" fiscal priorities, including what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, described as tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate handouts.
The Treasury Department had been forced to take special accounting steps to avoid piercing the debt ceiling in recent days and make sure it could pay its bills. On Thursday Treasury was forced to postpone its announcement of weekly bill auctions and its two-year note auction, another measure aimed at staying under the limit.
Failure to raise the ceiling could eventually lead to a default on government-issued securities, but Congress has never let this happen.
Republicans say the 2001 recession and the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are responsible for the fiscal shortfall.
The deficit hit a record of $412 billion in the 2004 fiscal year ended Sept.
30 and the Congressional Budget Office has projected $2.3 trillion in
accumulated deficits over the next decade.