updated 3/20/2006 3:32:35 PM ET 2006-03-20T20:32:35

With no fanfare, President Bush signed a bill Monday pushing the ceiling on the national debt to nearly $9 trillion.

The measure allows the government to borrow an additional $781 billion and prevent a first-ever default on Treasury notes. It also lets the government pay for the war in Iraq without raising taxes or cutting popular domestic programs.

The debt limit increase was the fourth of Bush’s presidency, totaling $3 trillion. With the budget deficit near record levels, an additional increase in the debt limit almost certainly will be required next year.

The measure allows the debt limit to rise from $8.184 trillion to $8.965 trillion.

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