A REPRIEVE: Congress passed legislation Thursday to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, averting a first-ever government default that had loomed as early as mid-February.

THE DETAILS: The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the bill, sending the measure to President Barack Obama, who has said he will sign it. The Republican-led House passed the legislation last week.

THE OUTLOOK: The legislation would temporarily suspend the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing, allowing the government to borrow more to meet interest payments and pay obligations like Social Security benefits and government salaries. Experts say the deadline for Congress to act again to prevent default would likely not come until August.