RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Barack Obama on Saturday signed separate measures into law to lift the federal debt limit and restore benefits that had been cut for younger military retirees.
Obama signed the bills during a weekend golf vacation in Southern California.
The debt limit measure allows the government to borrow money to pay its bills, such as Social Security benefits and federal salaries. Failure to pass the measure, which the Senate passed 67-31 earlier this week and sent to Obama for his signature, most likely would have sent the stock market into a nosedive.
The Treasury Department is now free to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, meaning lawmakers won’t have to revisit the issue until a new Congress is sworn in after the November elections.
Quick action by lawmakers on this year’s debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall, when Republicans sought to use the must-pass bill as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts. But Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election in 2012.
The bill he signed Saturday is the third consecutive debt measure to pass Congress without concessions from the White House.
Republicans also have been less confrontational since a 16-day partial government shutdown last October sent the party’s poll numbers skidding.
Both bills were flown to Obama in California Friday night, a White House aide said.