In brief: Obama signs law lifting debt limit
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government’s borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation’s debt until later this year.
The legislation temporarily suspends the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing. Experts say that will allow the government to borrow about $450 billion to meet interest payments and other obligations.
The Senate gave the bill final approval last week and sent it to Obama, who signed it Monday shortly after returning from Minneapolis.
Democrats and Obama had warned that failure to pass the bill could set off financial panic and threaten the economic recovery.
The bill includes a provision attached by House Republicans that temporarily withholds lawmakers’ pay in either chamber that fails to produce a budget plan.
McCain opposes Hagel filibuster
WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. John McCain, a sharp critic of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, said Monday he will not support a filibuster of President Barack Obama’s pick, even though he declined to say whether he intends to vote for confirmation.
“I do not believe a filibuster is appropriate and I would oppose such a move,” McCain told reporters Monday, two days after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell raised the possibility of forcing a showdown vote.
Petition opposes Scouts’ gay ban
IRVING, Texas – The Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board began three days of closed meetings Monday that are expected to include a discussion of its policy excluding gay members and leaders, and Scouts on both sides of the debate are publically weighing in.
The meetings are getting far more attention since the organization announced last week it would consider allowing individual troops to decide whether to allow gay membership. Police and security guards kept watch at the suburban Dallas hotel where the meetings are being held, and reporters were barred from talking to board members.
Several current and former Scouts, leaders and their supporters rallied outside the organization’s nearby national headquarters in Irving, Texas, armed with four boxes of what they said were 1.4 million signatures on a petition opposing the Scouts’ current policy.
Skydiver reached Mach 1.25 in jump
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner was faster than he or anyone else thought during his record-setting jump last October from 24 miles up.
The Austrian parachutist known as “Fearless Felix” reached 843.6 mph, according to official numbers released Monday. That’s equivalent to Mach 1.25, or 1.25 times the speed of sound.
His top speed initially was estimated at 10 mph slower at 834 mph, or Mach 1.24.
Either way, he became the first human to break the sound barrier with only his body. He wore a pressurized suit and hopped from a capsule hoisted by a giant helium balloon over New Mexico.