News Wrap: Senate Votes to Suspend Debt Limit Until May
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KWAME HOLMAN: The U.S. Senate voted today to suspend the nation’s debt limit through mid-May. That lets the government go on borrowing to pay its bills beyond the current limit of $16.4 trillion.
Republicans and Democrats supported the legislation, but both sides also complained about kicking the issue down the road.
SEN. DAN COATS, R-Ind.: I have had enough of it. The people of Indiana have had enough of it. The American people across the country have had enough of Washington postponing real action on the most serious challenge facing our country, namely the out-of-control spending into further deficit and debt.
SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: Obviously, Democrats would prefer a longer suspension of the debt ceiling, which would provide additional economic security and stability as we continue to find ways to decrease the deficit. Raising the possibility that the United States could default its obligations every few months is not an ideal way to run government. But a short-term solution is better than another imminent manufactured crisis.
KWAME HOLMAN: The House already passed the bill. Without it, the government would default on its obligations as early as mid-February.
In economic news, Americans’ personal income grew in December by the most in eight years. But first-time claims for jobless benefits were up last week. And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 50 points to close at 13,860. The Nasdaq fell a fraction of a point to close at 3,142.
Blinding snowfall and a slick freeway triggered a mile-long series of crashes in Detroit today. At least three people were killed and 20 more injured. The pileups left a section of Interstate 75 littered with wrecked cars and big-rig trucks. The tangle involved some 30 vehicles, and halted traffic on the road for hours.
In Egypt, representatives from the country’s various factions made a rare show of unity today to denounce violence. The Muslim Brotherhood and secular parties met in Cairo after rioting last week that killed nearly 60 people. The meeting was led by Egypt’s top Muslim cleric, Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb.
SHEIK AHMED AL-TAYEB, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: The duty of the different political movements is to commit to the use of pluralism and differences in peaceful ways and to denounce the use of any sort of violence to achieve political ends. The only way to solve any problems and differences is national dialogue without excluding any group.
KWAME HOLMAN: The week-long protests marked the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
France today declared success in its three-week military operation to rout Islamist rebels in Mali. Malian forces liberated the towns of Gao and Timbuktu this week, and French troops now have occupied the airport at a third key city, Kidal. In Paris today, the French defense minister said his government is open to having U.N. peacekeepers take over, with French support.