The U.S. House has passed, by a vote of 233 to 187, the pay-as-you-go budget rules the Senate passed, which are similar to the rules that helped wipe out massive deficits and balance the budget during the Clinton administration. But it does have loopholes that could permit Congress to add at least $1.5 trillion dollars to the nation's tab over the next decade. The President is expected to sign the document.
The rules permit lawmakers to protect taxpayers from the expansion of the alternative minimum tax for two years, lower the estate tax for two years and protect doctors who serve Medicare patients from a scheduled pay cut through 2014.
The measure raises the legal limit on government borrowing by a record $1.9 trillion. The increase, approved on a separate vote 217 to 212, authorizes the Treasury Department to continue borrowing to cover the nation's bills through early next year. Republicans voted unanimously to block the increase, inviting the first default by the U.S. government.