ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greece's lawmakers have approved a key austerity bill, paving the way for the country to get its next vital bailout loans that will prevent it from defaulting next month.
The unpopular $40 billion five-year package of spending cuts and tax hikes was backed by a majority of the 300-member parliament Wednesday, including a Socialist deputy who had previously vowed to vote against.
The European Union and International Monetary Fund have demanded the austerity measures pass before they approve the release of a loan installment from last year's rescue package.
Without those funds, Greece would be facing a default by the middle of July.
The vote took place amid clashes between police and protesters outside Parliament.
The progress on Greece's debt crisis is sending stocks higher in early trading today.