The Democratically controlled U.S. Senate sided with President Obama Thursday and raised the nation's debt level again by another $1.2 trillion.
Senate Democrats rejected a Republican resolution that would have stopped the president from using his authority to raise the debt ceiling.
The GOP failed on the 52-44 vote, mostly split along party lines. Blocking the debt increase would have provoked a first-ever, market-rattling default by the U.S. on its debt obligations.
"Look, we should be working together to lower the debt, not having votes to increase it," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday. "No more blank checks."
Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana said default was unthinkable and that additional borrowing is needed to pay for obligations already incurred by lawmakers.
"If today's vote succeeds and causes a default, the federal government would not have funds to pay troop salaries, Social Security benefits, or Medicare bills," Baucus said.
"These programs would be in danger, and that would hurt the families and seniors that rely on them," he said.
House Republicans passed the measure last week.
The votes were required as part of last summer's debt deal between lawmakers and the White House. The agreement permits a total debt limit increase of $2.1 trillion in exchange for an equivalent amount in spending cuts spread out over the coming decade.
Since the Senate did not block the request, the government's borrowing authority will push the national debt to $16.4 trillion.