Published Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Parliament Buildings at Stormont (© Getty)
The second stage of the bill - which proposes the most radical changes to the benefits system in NI in years - was passed by 60 votes to 42 late on Tuesday night.
It faced strong opposition from Sinn Féin, who wanted to defer introducing the measures to allow for further talks with Westminister.
The party put forward an amendment calling for a deferral. It was also defeated by 60 votes to 42, before the legislation went through to committee stage by the same margin.
If enacted, the new bill - which has already been passed in England and Wales - will have an impact on the lives of thousands of local people.
Key features include a universal credit to cover a range of benefits, a personal independence payment reassessed every three years to replace Disability Living Allowance, and housing benefit reforms.
The Stormont debate started on Tuesday morning and ended after midnight on Wednesday as all parties raised concerns but clashed over how to achieve changes.
The DUP warned that a failure to adopt the reforms could see the Executive lose out on over £200m of Treasury funding - insisting there is simply no time for deferral.
Sinn Féin did not opt to lodge a Petition of Concern, which would have meant the legislation could only be approved if a majority of unionist and nationalist members back it.
With the party holding sway on the nationalist benches, and the SDLP also willing to sign a petition, it would have guaranteed the fall of the Bill.
However Alex Maskey insisted his party did not want to scrap the legislation but instead renegotiate its terms.
The Ulster Unionists and Alliance also had issues with the bill but said they would not block the legislation passing to committee stage.