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House approves debt-limit bill, sends it to Senate

Mon., Aug. 1, 2011, 5:13 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The House has passed legislation designed to keep the government from defaulting on its debts. The measure also sets a course for reducing the federal deficit in the future.

The Senate, where support is stronger, is expected to take up the bill on Tuesday, the deadline for Congress to act before the government loses its ability to pay all its bills.

The 269-161 vote in the House came after Republican leaders spent the day urging recalcitrant conservatives to support the bill.

The bill would raise the debt ceiling by more than $2 trillion and cut federal spending by a similar amount over the next decade. A special congressional committee would be set up to consider entitlement and tax changes.

In a dramatic moment shortly before the vote concluded, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat critically injured when she was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in her district in January, appeared on the House floor for the first time since the attack.

Fellow lawmakers crowded around Giffords to shake her hand when she appeared on the floor. She hugged and kissed fellow lawmakers as those in the chamber applauded.

Voting yes among Northwest lawmakers were Washington Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Doc Hastings, Dave Reichert and Jaime Herrera Beutler; Washington Democrats Jay Inslee, Norm Dicks and Rick Larson and Idaho Republican Mike Simpson.

Voting no were Idaho Republican Raul Labrador and Washington Democrats Jim McDermott and Adam Smith.

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