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House Votes To Extend Debt Limit To March 2015

The House of Representatives has voted to extend the federal debt limit, after the Republican majority abandoned its hopes to tie other provisions to the measure. By a 221-201 vote, the House voted to extend the debt limit to March 15, 2015.

Update at 5:35 p.m. ET: Ryan Reportedly Voted 'No'

In the end, 28 Republicans joined with 193 Democrats to approve the move.

On Twitter, several congressional reporters quickly noted that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was one of many Republicans who voted against the legislation.

As you recall, it was Ryan who shaped a compromise agreement with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in December that was welcomed for moving the government off of what seemed to be an endless road of potential budget shutdowns.

Our original post continues:

The budget limit vote had been slated for later this week, but Speaker John Boehner moved it to Tuesday afternoon over concerns about the large winter storm that's predicted to hit the East Coast. Legislators are scheduled to be on a long recess after the vote.

The Senate is expected to act on the bill before it leaves for its own recess later this week.

The Hill reports that Boehner was forced to hold a "clean" bill that lacked requirements that had been a Republican priority: restoring military pensions to levels before recent cuts.

"It's a disappointing moment, I can tell you that," Boehner said.

"We don't have 218 votes, and when you don't have 218 votes, you have nothing," he told reporters, according to The Hill.

Boehner said Republicans would only give the minimum number of votes in support of the bill.

"I'll be one of them," he said.

Few Republicans seemed eager to join him — the vote's time elapsed with hundreds of votes still out. Slowly, support for the bill grew until it was ultimately passed.

While House Republicans were forced to put off the idea of bolstering military pensions, the Senate took up a similar matter Tuesday, as it worked on S. 1963, which C-SPAN calls "the Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act, a bill to repeal a $6 billion cut to military pensions that was included in the budget agreement."

The House vote comes days after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress urging action on the debt limit — something he's done as other recent financial deadlines approached, as well.

"Based on our best and most recent information, however, we are not confident that the extraordinary measures will last beyond Thursday, February 27," Lew wrote. "At that point, Treasury would be left with only the cash on hand and any incoming revenue to meet our country's commitments."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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