The debt-ceiling battle: Where things stand
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords came to the House floor during Monday evening's vote -- the first time she appeared in the House since she was shot in January.
August 1st, 2011
08:05 PM ET

The debt-ceiling battle: Where things stand

[Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET] U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose vote for the debt-ceiling compromise bill Monday was the first vote she cast since she was shot in January, has released a statement:

"I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington," Giffords, D-Arizona, said. "After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy."

Her statement noted that she didn't vote for a debt-limit increase in December 2009 and February 2010. It said that Monday's vote was different, arguing that the strength of the U.S. economy was hanging in the balance.

Giffords had been away from the House since she was shot through the head during a meeting with constituents in Tucson. She was released from inpatient rehabilitation at a Texas medical center in June.

Six other people, including one of her aides and a federal judge, were killed and 12 others were wounded in the Tucson attack.

[Updated at 7:39 p.m. ET] The U.S. Senate is now expected to vote on the debt-ceiling compromise bill on Tuesday at noon.

The House passed the bill 269-161 earlier this evening. One of the representatives who voted yes was Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, who cast her first vote since she was shot in Tucson in January.

The two-stage deal reached Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders calls for $2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade, although the the Congressional Budget Office pegs the savings at $2.1 trillion. It also authorizes an increase in the nation's borrowing limit through the end of 2012. A special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms is also part of the package.

In the first stage, $917 billion in spending cuts will be accompanied by a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling. A special joint congressional committee would recommend a further $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. If approved by the full Congress by year's end, Obama could raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion. If not, the ceiling could rise by $1.2 trillion, but doing so would trigger matching mandatory across-the-board spending cuts likely to be unpopular with both parties.

The legislation needs to reach Obama's desk by Tuesday at the latest, according to the Treasury Department. If the current $14.3 trillion debt limit is not increased by that point, the federal government wouldn't be able to pay all its bills on time, and Americans could face rapidly rising interest rates, a falling dollar and shakier financial markets, among other problems.

[Updated at 7:34 p.m. ET] The final tally of the House vote was 269-161 in favor of the debt-ceiling compromise bill. Sixty-six Republicans and 95 Democrats voted no.

The bill goes to the Senate, which is expected to vote Tuesday.

[Updated at 7:31 p.m. ET] More details on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' dramatic appearance and vote on the House floor - her first since she was shot in January - during Monday evening's vote on the debt-ceiling compromise bill:

Giffords, accompanied by her chief of staff, entered to a prolonged standing ovation. She was hugged by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Giffords walked to her seat and sat down to vote.

Democrats cheered more when Giffords voted yes, CNN's Deirdre Walsh reported. Pelosi wiped tears from her eyes.

Dozens of Republicans and Democrats mobbed around her, and she stood to greet them.

[Updated at 7:14 p.m. ET] U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who was shot in the head during a political event in her home state in January, came onto the House floor during the vote on the debt-ceiling compromise bill. She had been away from the House since the shooting, and was released from inpatient rehabilitation at a Texas medical center in June.

Her colleagues in the House applauded as she returned to the floor.

"Her presence ... brings honor to this chamber. ... Thank you, Gabby," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said on the House floor after the vote on the debt-ceiling compromise bill, which the House passed a few minutes ago.

[Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET] The U.S. House has passed the debt-ceiling compromise bill. The bill now goes to the Senate, which plans to wait until Tuesday to vote on it, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party.

[Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET] The U.S. House has started voting on the debt-ceiling compromise bill. The procedure will take 15 minutes.

[Updated at 6:19 p.m. ET] House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has confirmed during debate on the House floor that she'll support the debt-ceiling compromise bill, though she lamented that the compromise fails to increase revenue from the nation's wealthy to help reduce deficits

Members of the House Democratic leadership generally had been quiet about whether they would support the bill.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this evening. The Senate may wait until Tuesday to vote on it, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party.

[Updated at 6:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. House could vote on the debt-ceiling compromise bill this evening, and the Senate may take it up tomorrow, according to leadership sources in both chambers.

The House, at about 5 p.m., began what was expected to be a roughly hourlong debate on the bill. The House could vote on the bill at about 6:45 p.m., a senior GOP leadership source told CNN's Deirdre Walsh.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, will support the deal, a House democratic leadership aide said, according to CNN's Kate Bolduan.

During debate on the House floor Monday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, also said he would vote for the bill. House Members of the House Democratic leadership generally had been quiet about whether they would support it.

"I am voting for this bill, not because I like this bill, although it does do some things that I think need to be done" like addressing debt and returning to fiscal responsibility, he said. "But default for the United States of America is not an option."

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate are working on an agreement to hold a vote Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party.

[Updated at 5 p.m. ET] CNN’s John King offered some analysis Monday afternoon on the state of the debt ceiling talks in Washington. Below are highlights:

– What's the deal in the House? "First the House passes a rule which lays out how long they will debate this, what amendments can and cannot be offered," King said. "Then they will actually get about to debating the legislation." He said, "They're trying to get the harder vote, the House vote, today."

– What's the deal in the Senate? "I'm told they hoped to get the Senate tonight," King said. Although the clock was ticking, "they haven't officially said no Senate vote tonight."

– What the accord entails: "A lot of the liberal left, all the liberal organizations, are saying the super committee is going to make Medicare cuts. Nobody's happy. Both the conservative right and the liberal left are very, very unhappy."

– Deadline: Midnight tonight or tomorrow? "Well, that's the big question," King said. "If the Senate holds its vote over, does the administration say, 'OK, you're going to do it sometime during the day tomorrow, we can work it for a couple of hours.' Remember, the president did say he would accept a short-term extension, short-term increase in the debt limit if they had the big framework." If legislators need an extra "24, 48 hours, they could resort to that," he said.

– How legislators feel about the deal: "Essentially the Democrats are saying 'Let's see how many Republicans go forward.' The Democrats are saying, 'Let's let John Boehner deal with his family feud before the Democrats,' " King said.  "The Democrats are saying the president sat down at these negotiations and started by giving things away before the game had even started. Democrats are not happy about that," King said.

[Initial post] The House and Senate are expected to vote Monday on a plan that would lift the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and avoid an unprecedented default on the nation's debt.

The measure would reduce deficits by at least an estimated $2.4 trillion over a decade and create a bipartisan panel to recommend fiscal reform going forward.

Debt-ceiling debate: Breakdown of the deal

In the first stage of the two-part plan, $917 billion in spending cuts will be accompanied by a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling.

A special joint congressional committee would recommend a further $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. If approved by the full Congress by year's end, Obama could raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion. If not, the ceiling could rise by $1.2 trillion. But doing so would trigger matching mandatory across-the-board spending cuts likely to be unpopular with both parties.

It remains unclear whether congressional leaders have the votes to ensure the bill's passage, particularly in the House.

Both Democrats and Republicans have major problems with the compromise. Democrats are livid over the extent of the deal's domestic spending cuts as well as the absence of any immediate tax increase on wealthier Americans. Several Republicans are worried about cuts in defense spending and the lack of a required balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

If the debt ceiling is not raised Tuesday, the ripple-down effect would be immediate: The value of the U.S. dollar may drop. Americans could face rising interest rates, making mortgages and car and student loans more expensive.

In the House, as of 8:15 p.m. ET Monday

The House voted 269-161 on Monday to pass the agreement and send it to the Senate.

Republican leaders said the measure upholds their principles and begins to change the way that Washington spends taxpayer dollars.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while complaining that the compromise fails to increase revenue from the nation's wealthy to help reduce deficits, voted for the plan.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, made an emotional return to the House to cast her first vote - in favor of the plan - since being shot in the head in an assassination attempt in January. She received a prolonged standing ovation.

In the Senate, as of 8:15 p.m. ET Monday

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced the Senate would take up the agreement at noon on Tuesday. Reid said no amendments would be allowed, and approval would require a 60-vote super-majority in the 100-member chamber to pass.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Monday that he worries the bill cuts too much in defense spending but stressed that does not mean he will refuse to support it.

McCain added that fellow Republicans worried about giving too much ground in the compromise deal should be concerned about other things. "What they should worry about more than anything else is the view in which the American people hold us and their low opinion of us because we're failing to do what they think is our job," McCain told CNN's "American Morning."

Obama's view

President Barack Obama, emerging yet again Sunday night to appeal for public support, hailed the compromise agreement as an imperfect yet much-needed salve that "will reduce the deficit and avoid default a default that would have had a devastating effect on our economy."

He said the deal was structured in a way "that we will not face this kind of crisis in six months, or eight months, or 12 months."

iReport: Share your message to Congress

He asserted the first part of the agreement, cutting $1 trillion over 10 years, would reduce annual domestic spending to "the lowest level ... since Dwight Eisenhower was president."

Obama had said he would oppose any bill that didn't raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election season  something, he said, that was satisfied under this compromise.

soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. mashilo

    I wonder how did US get in so much debts,is the US lacking behind when coming to entrepreneurship compared to other G8 nations?

    August 2, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I'm up a little late for me and off to the gym–legs day in rotation.
    I'm on vacation most of this month. We're taking two trips, about a week each, one to Italy, one driving with another couple, long-time friends who seem to live for horses, just going in the car and pretending to be kids again.
    This nothing-to-do feeling is how it is to wake up to public assistance every day.
    I sent in my union dues last week. I have to be a member, but they negotiate almost nothing for me.
    I'd like to see the USA become a RTW nation.
    This debt thing is all needless political posturing.
    It's almost nothing but nostalgia that keeps me in my Republican party. Since their foolishness in the last presidential election, and as pretty as Palin is, I think they've lost their minds.

    August 2, 2011 at 7:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ mashilo:
    You're onto something.
    More entrepreneurs would help, but they would arise from a massive change in our mentality of dependency.

    August 2, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Banasy

    Nice to have Rep. Giffords back.
    I hope she remains on the road to total recovery.

    August 2, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Voice of Reason

      Maybe I'm being cynical, but I wouldn't put it above politicians to use sympathy for her to influence the vote.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. thomas diprima

    Nice going GOP....I hope enough Americans had their blindfolds off to really see this one. Taking us to the brink like this at a time when the economy is so fragile. Where were you when Bush brought these deficits with all his unecessary military spending during his reign of terror? Your disgraceful behavior coupled with weak democrats and a President who is still too new at all this to see what was coming has the entire country in dire straits.......and the sad part is that you're all probably going to get away with it. shame shame

    August 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. hiker

    I caught a guy stealing from someone else's backpack. I don't recall asking about his party status before confronting him. But he must of been a rep. according to half of you...a dem. according to the other half. That makes 100% of you party affiliates wrong if you think that the other party is the guilty one. They cover for themselves a lot more than they go after each other, that's for sure. And none of them ever go to jail! Look at some of the things they've been busted doing! They get "censured" with a presidential pardon oftentimes.

    August 2, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Concern

    I heard on the Radio that a congressman from Colorodo made a statement likening President Obama to a "tar baby, is this racist or what? This statement is recognized as a derogatory term for African Americans.

    August 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Concern

      Why didn't we hear about this on CNN>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      August 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joann

    DON'T,get me WRONG.I,AM REALLY EXCITED,that the country is NOT,GOING into DEBT.BUT,I DO BELIEVE,us BABY BOOMER'S,have a HUGE APOLOGY COMING to US ALL. Thank You. JoAnn Barthiolomew

    August 3, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Samantha

    I am hoping the budget cuts are for those people abusing the system. I mean being on unemployment for 5 years and not finding a job, really? You may not like it but McDonalds, Burger King and 7-11 are hiring. Also what about the people who are selling their food stamp money? My bills are tight some months and I need help too but I can't any help because of the hundreds of people abusing the system. Congress, you may not like what I have to say but what about your pay check? Can't you take a pay cut to help you state? There are small things that we can do that can add up to make a difference, just ask the American public we do without things every day.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. DFH

    "I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington," Giffords, D-Arizona, said. "After weeks of failed debate in Washington,
    ___________
    Amazon

    August 9, 2011 at 5:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. TERROR ALERT

    YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

    What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

    ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but instead tear gas and on faces of multiculturalism maniacs while calling you a terrorists) !!! stateofterror.blogspot.com/ or stateofterror.wordpress.com/

    OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION
    avsecbostjan.blogspot.com/ or avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/

    Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

    TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

    Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS(DEAD AND ILL) as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes !!!

    August 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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