The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand on a vote
House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the Capitol Friday morning.
July 29th, 2011
09:47 PM ET

The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand on a vote

The federal government has four days left to raise the nation's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said. A failure to do so will risk an unprecedented national default.

If the debt ceiling is not raised by Tuesday, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

As the cost of borrowing rises, individual mortgages, car loans and student loans could become significantly more expensive. Some financial experts have warned of a downgrade of America's triple-A credit rating and a potential stock market crash.

Without an increase in the debt limit, the federal government will not be able to pay all of its bills next month. President Barack Obama recently indicated he can't guarantee Social Security checks will be mailed out on time. Other critical government programs could be endangered as well.

Where do things stand in the fight to raise the debt ceiling?

House

Senate Democrats on Friday blocked the latest House Republican proposal to cut spending and increase the federal debt ceiling, setting up a weekend of negotiations to seek a deal that would avoid a potential federal default next week.

Earlier Friday, House Republicans passed Speaker John Boehner's latest proposal, overcoming opposition from Democrats and tea party conservatives. But Democrats had vowed to defeat it in the Senate, where they have the majority.

Boehner's plan calls for $917 billion in savings over the next decade, while creating a special congressional committee to recommend additional savings of $1.6 trillion or more. It would allow the debt ceiling to be increased by a total of roughly $2.5 trillion through two separate votes. The $2.5 trillion total would be enough to fund the federal government through the end of 2012.

The plan originally called for a congressional vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. Boehner has since reached out to disgruntled conservatives by amending the plan to require congressional passage of such an amendment as a condition for raising the debt limit by the full $2.5 trillion, according to two GOP congressmen.

The vote was scheduled to have taken place on Thursday night, but Republican leaders postponed the vote amid signs they did not have enough support to pass it.

Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan would reduce federal deficits over the next decade by at least $2.2 trillion while raising the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion. Reid has promised additional cuts will be included in the final version of his legislation - enough to meet the GOP's demand that total savings should at least equal any total debt ceiling hike.

Reid's plan would cut spending by $1.8 trillion. Roughly $1 trillion in the savings are based on the planned U.S. withdrawals from military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reid's plan also would establish a congressional committee made up of 12 House and Senate members to consider additional options for debt reduction. The committee's proposals would be guaranteed a Senate vote with no amendments by the end of this year.

Reid said Friday morning that he "must take action" on the Senate's legislation by the end of the day.

Obama

Obama has endorsed Reid's plan and threatened a veto of Boehner's plan. The president strongly opposes any bill which doesn't raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election. Obama has promised to veto any short-term debt ceiling extension unless it paves the way for a "grand bargain" of more sweeping reforms and revenue increases.

On Friday, Obama urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to take the lead in congressional negotiations. He said the House GOP plan "has no chance of becoming law." Obama also urged Americans to keep contacting members of Congress in order "to keep the pressure on Washington."

The president made a nationally televised plea for compromise Monday night, though he also criticized Republicans for opposing any tax hikes on the wealthy.

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Filed under: Budget • Business • Economy • Finance • Politics
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. BB

    YOU KNOW I'M SO SICK OF WASHINGTON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW EVERYONE THERE IS VOTING NOT VOTING WHATEVER!!
    THE HOUSE, AND CONGRESS HOLDING ALL THE POOR AND WORKING CLASS PEOPLE HOSTAGE OVER THIS SITUATION, DEBT CEILING... LOOK HERE DO THE RIGHT THING AND STOP THIS CRAZY MESS, BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. I DONT CARE WHAT YOUR PARTY IS, CHECKS NEED TO BE MAILED AND MEDICATIONS NEED TO BE BOUGHT, BILLS HAVE TO BE PAID. THAT'S OUR MONEY .

    July 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • AUSTaxpayer

      It's ridiculous how our elected officials continue to pander to their party lines while the US is driven farther and farther into debt each year.

      Solutions to the problem are not that difficult to figure out:

      If you consider that many of the large corporations, who are raking in profits and not paying taxes like GE and the Automakers. Make them pay their fair share of taxes as the rest of the businesses and individual do each year and we will see where the revenue ends up.

      We are spending too much money on our three largest expenditures:

      1) The Military/Security Non Discretionary Funding, our single largest budget obligation.

      2) Medicare.

      3) Medicaid.

      We need to get our troops back home and reduce the size of our armed forces to their pre Reagan era size. Although increasing the size of our Military led directly to the breakup of the Soviet Union, we can no longer afford to pay for it as we will soon see the collapse of our own economy as well.

      Health care costs have driven the cost of the Medicare and Medicaid programs through the roof. We may have to place some type of regulation on the health care industry as the corporate greed of the providers, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies have driven the cost of health care to excessive levels.

      We need smaller budget cuts across the board for all Discretionary funding.

      How the heck can our Congress and Senate not see what is glaringly obvious?

      July 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jane

    Plenty of Federal Governmant employees get paid pretty darned high on the GS scale to not shou up for work or not do the work while they're there (usually leaving the lower levels to pick up the slack to not get paid for it). Also how about taking control of the illegal immigrant situation? they're the ones that put the strain on the health care system, etc. How about doing away with the welafre states? That would make it easier for people to NOT need to end up paying for someone else. Point is, things can not be over spent or given out friviously and then expect things like this not to happen.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • AUSTaxpayer

      Jane,

      You ignorant Sl?t.

      1) Federal workers are paid much less than their civilian counterparts for performing essentially the same work.
      2) Staffing of federal position has been cut year after year since 1994. Federal workers now have more work to do with fewer employees on the job.
      3) Federal employees who do not show up to wok are fired.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      AUSTaxpayer you are so right...most government employees such as secretaries may have good benefits, but their hourly wage is not a as good as working for a big corporation. When you add up the hours in and out of the classroom, many teachers don't make the per child hourly wage of a babysitter.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Jane you should educate yourself before making statements about federal workers. I have served my country in the armed forces and I am now serving my country as a federal employee. Making generalized statements that " government employees get paid pretty darned high on the GS scale to not shou (spelling) up for work or not do the work while they're there (usually leaving the lower levels to pick up the slack to not get paid for it)", just shows your ignorance. The recent demonization of federal employees by the public and the media just seems to go along with the current finger pointing that is plaguing Washington. Federal employees are no more at fault for this current economic mess, than the private sector employees. Is there waste in the government, yes. Are there government employees that are lazy and don't do there job, yes. To generalize and say that ALL government employees are overpaid and lazy is closed minded. No one is stopping americans from getting a government job. This is not a secret fraternity that keeps everyone out. Americans are more than welcome to join the federal work force and serve there country as a federal employee. It is always easier to point and blame others.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shawn Davis

    The House (Republicans) need to drop the crazy hat, and start acting responsibly.

    Just produce a bipartisan bill that stands a chance of getting passed by the Senate, and let's move from there.

    God help us that we are cursed with a two party system, and the Republicans are incompetent and crazy. We need another party of conservatives who aren't nuts or fundamentalists.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      We used to have a reasonably responsible Republican party then they became the big tent of rigid greedy core-issue loonies.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ronald hall

    Interesting that now we are seeing GOP former Senator Fred Thompson on television advocating reverse home mortgages. Seniors who retired counting on a quoted SS benefit may not have a choice. I guess his buddies in Congress are trying to help Fred get some business.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Beware...reverse mortgages will be the foreclosure mess of the next decade when they take grandma's house because grandpa died. Just type "Reverse Mortgage Mess" in your google search and read The Washington Post Klipinger com report "A Reverse Mortgage Mess?" March 9, 2008.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maude

    May Allah guide the GOP and forgive them for tresspassing on the US. My Allah bless the US and keep them from the evil donkey people.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joeblow

    The Republicans will pay dearly for their uncompromising/rigid stand. Not even raising taxes on the super rich and the investment bankers and hedge fund managers whose greed caused the Great Recession. If we re-elect those dumb Tea Party'ers again, this country deserves to be a 3rd/4th rate world power: Just learn Mandarin!

    July 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScrewthePOORNOW

      Democrats will pay dearly for their uncompromising stance on Health Care, Gays in the MIlitary and Amnesty.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      They sure will...veterans, firefighters, police officers, school teachers, nurses, union workers, the elderly, those with disabilities, will go to the polls and vote.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rich

    "Every major bill should be posted online and publicly available for at least 72 hours."

    – John Boehner

    July 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • MindField

      80,000 checks a month... lol

      July 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Senator Obama Where Did You Go?

    The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

    Senator Obama – 2006

    July 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sun

    I'm so tired of congress and Washington saying they are working for the American people. NO they are not! They are working for those who think they way they do. What the tea party is doing is no different from what President Obama did with health care, appeal to their base. If you are working for the American people, then you would compromise. Some of us think like republicans, some like democrats, and some like the tea party. That's what makes this country great. That's why compromising the best because it gives everyone something they want (since we all have different views). Has far as an admendment I don't understand that. You need an admendment to do your job?

    July 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Sometimes for the best for the Nation, and in doing what is right for the majority of people, the whining of a greedy few who only want to have it all and who want it their way, but in so doing would hurt many...your idea is not valid. Sometimes a workable compromise cannot be found, due to those greedy who will not bend to do good for the most.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    Wow, it is so sad to see how weak, pathetic, and irrelevant Obama has become in the course of this debate. He is certainly no Bill Clinton by any stretch of imagination. A nice guy, for sure, but nice guys finish last. The Republicans sense his weakness and are taking full advantage of it. They look ridiculous, they look intransigent, they look unreasonable, but they look strong and are getting their way. Obama must not have taken negotiations classes in law school. You don't take the 14th Amendment option off the table, you threaten to use it to gain leverage. What he has done is equivalent to the US or the Soviet Union saying that no matter what, they will not use nukes during the height of the Cold War. Democrats will need strong and convincing leadership to deal with the rising wave of right wing radicalism in this country. Unfortunately, they will not get it in 2012. The damage to this country will be immeasurable if radical, Bible hugging, devine intervention-seeking Republicans gain complete dominance. For now there are only concerns about money/investment flowing out of US. I'm afraid that smart, educated, reasonable, and secular people will start fleeing this country for other English-speaking destinations such as Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, etc, leaving this country to the ultra-wealthy and the ultra-dumb.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • patty

      I've already fled to Canada... the US with its buracratic goverment is bringing its own self down. That government is NOT my government and it doesn't give a crap about its people, rather, about money and being re-elected. Obama doesn't want to consider a debt ceiling increase that may have to be raised again in 6 months. Why? Because he's afraid during an election year it will hurt his chance at re-election. IS THIS ANY REASON TO MAKE A DECISION LIKE THAT WHICH AFFECTS MILLIONS OF PEOPLE??? Take the 6 month plan, buy time because in the long run the world suffers for the greed of the American government.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Yep, Patty that's the teaparty for you...no thought for the American people just for the greedy rich. Sort of like the Gollum and Morgoth from Lord of the Rings.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Misquoting President Obama? The full quote was: "This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this." In other words, he was not worrying about his presidency he would not cave even if it did bring his presidency down. Fox news of course would only give you half the quote.

      Fankly Americans don't need this again in 6 months...so move on and take John with you.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ScrewthePOORNOW

    The poor with thier slimy hands always out asking for more more more are a threat to this country and provide NO benefits to those of us who keep their sorry azzes afloat.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sun

      Spoken like a true Christian.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • clyde

      Homeliness and poverty doesnt discriminate. We suppose to walk in love not hate. We are all rich in resources but it takes cohesion to raise a nation. Division only seperates. The Dollar is weak, the economy is weak, unemployment is growing and this issue want solve the problem. We get what we put into something. Karma is a nasty order

      July 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MindField

      wow! really you blame the poor? it's time for your meds

      July 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • AUSTaxpayer

      @ScrewthePOORNOW
      It would be ironic if you were to lose all of your assets. Then, being poor, you would be welcome to go screw yourself.
      It's refreshing to read posts from a caring individual like yourself.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScrewthePOORNOW

      I dont care about the poor they are so because they wont work.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • schymtz

      OK Scrooge, or Dives, or whatever, what a terrible spiritual abyss you live in! And you must truely believe you've earned every dime and owe nothing to anyone. It must be difficult to live in a world where you believe that everyone with less than you is trying to take from you what is rightfully yours.

      July 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Betty

    Are we becoming a rogue nation?

    July 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Yes, the rogues call themselves teaparty members...and they are akin to the Gollum and Morgoth from Lord of the Rings.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. clyde

    I think the President should use his Executive powers ie 14th Amendment. Franklyn D. Roosevelt utilized his executive powers and restored confidence in the economy. What I see right now is the same challenges the 32nd president Roosevelt faced when a Conservation Coalition refuse to support him and pass critical Legislation. We all know the outcome.......360 all over again..........

    July 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScrewthePOORNOW

      Rosevelt was a MAN and not a boy wonder.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • clyde

      Think New DEAL

      July 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ScrewthePOORNOW

      The only time the left mentions Christianity is when it is time to grease their lazy hands.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Roosevelt was the sensible answer to Hoover's fail policies...the trickle-down theory of give it to the rich and let them peon you doesn't work. That theory of destroying the American economy has been tried three times...Hoover, Reagan, Bush II and each time it has brought us to economic ruin. Third time no more a charm than the first two.

      At the end of Hoover's term...much like the last Bush's we were at the brink of becoming a Banana Republic or fall like Rome, but with Roosevelt's vision we again became a great country. Yes, a boy wonder.

      July 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoGo

      The President does not have that power under the 14th Amendment. Congress does. Congress also has the power to borrow, as stated in Article 1, Section 8.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MindField

    It’s a mess, and we are all going to have to feel the pain in the wallet. However! Great leaders would lead by example, and eliminate their salary, pension, cars, housing, and medical coverage first. Stop all the foreign aid/money we send out, until we get our country under control. Raise taxes if needed; but get rid of all lobbyists and vote everyone in office out next election. Let us remind the government that the US is much bigger then their parties, personal morals, back door deals, and rich friends.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. patty

    I've already fled to Canada... 5 years ago. Best thing I ever did! The US with its buracratic goverment is bringing its own self down. That government is NOT my government and it doesn't represent me and it doesn't give a crap about its people. Rather, the concern of the DC idiots is all about money and being re-elected. Obama doesn't want to consider a debt ceiling increase that may have to be raised again in 6 months. Why? Because he's afraid during an election year it will hurt his chance at re-election. Well, yes it might. But so frickin what! IS THIS ANY REASON TO MAKE A DECISION LIKE THAT WHICH AFFECTS MILLIONS OF PEOPLE'S SOCIAL SECURITY, RETIREMENT, ETC.??? Bohner is wasting time shopping a bill through the house that has NO CHANCE of passing the Senate... why??? To save FACE and his political career thats why!!! Obama and Bohner are 2 of the biggest narcissists around and the people of the United States who worked for years contributing to social security, saving in their 401K's so they could retire, now will suffer because of it. SHAME ON WASHINGTON... MAKES ME ASHAMED I AM STILL A U.S. CITIZEN.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Misquoting President Obama? The full quote was: "This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this." In other words, he was not worrying about his presidency he would not cave even if it did bring his presidency down. Fox news of course would only give you half the quote.

      Frankly Americans don't need this again in 6 months...so move on and take John with you.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
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