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Senate sends debt limit bill to Obama

WASHINGTON – Legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills has cleared Congress for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the “aye” votes came from Obama’s Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally – held open for more than an hour – in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas.

The Senate’s top two Republicans – both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year – provided crucial momentum after a group of Republicans were clearly reluctant to walk the plank. Several other Republicans then switched their votes in solidarity.

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