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OVERNIGHT MONEY: Senate eyes debt-ceiling bump

WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORY:

Senate's turn on debt limit: After the House passed a bill on Tuesday to raise the debt ceiling, all eyes turned to the Senate as the threat of a major winter storm looms for Washington in the next day or so.

The Senate could clear the bill on Wednesday — if the upper chamber can muster the votes needed to squash a potential GOP filibuster. 

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While lawmakers are running up against a tight Feb. 27 deadline, the potential for a major snowstorm is ratcheting up pressure, especially with Congress set to be out next week. 

The legislation passed by the House would extend the nation's debt ceiling through March 15, 2015, and would allow the Treasury Department to issue new debt totaling hundreds of billions of dollars above the current $17.2 trillion limit.

After several different attempts to convince House conservatives to back a bill and reach the 218-vote threshold, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Ohio) finally decided he would roll with the "clean" bill, which needed a majority of Democrats to get through on a 221-201 vote.

Only two Democrats opposed the measure, and only 28 Republicans supported it, including BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE and Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorFeehery: The governing party 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI Raúl Labrador, a model for Hispanic politicians reaching higher MORE (R-Va.).

Meanwhile, uncertainty reigned in the Senate.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas) said he will filibuster the bill but signaled he could allow a Wednesday vote.

"Any vote on the debt ceiling has to be subject to a 60-vote threshold," Cruz said. "Under no circumstances will I consent to a 50-vote threshold."

Other Senate Republicans seemed disappointed with the House's measure.

"I'd prefer to get something for it," Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) said. "This is not going the way I would like it to."

To make matters trickier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) distanced himself from the House plan, which was blasted by Tea Party groups. 

McConnell said Republicans would have to discuss how to move forward once the House bill crosses the Capitol. 

So, now, we'll have to see if Senate Democrats can pick up the five votes needed to defeat a filibuster on the bill and move to a vote before the storm hits.

“It looks to me like we’ll find out in the next couple of days how this will be handled in the Senate,” McConnell said.

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

MBA Mortgage Index: The Mortgage Bankers Association releases its weekly report on mortgage application volume.

Treasury Budget: The Treasury Department releases its January budget data, which is used mostly by the market for year-over-year changes in receipts and outlays. 

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

 — Dem, Tea Party members team up to help unemployed find work

— Labor officials quash regs for family farms

— Asia-Pacific trade talks set to resume Feb. 22

— Panel votes to block IRS regulations

— McConnell bill prevents IRS ‘harassment’ of political groups

— Job openings, hiring fell in December

— Rep. Petri: Need for gas tax hike 'resonates'

— Yellen stays the course on stimulus exit

— Court rules IRS can't regulate tax preparers

— A new era for debt talks?

 

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