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?


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 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 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. michaelfury

    July 29, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dustin V Reid.

    CNN QUOTED THIS – "If the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems."

    The dollar is already dieing, you cant stop it now. We are defaulting either though inflation or cuts. No one can stop whats coming now, we are going to be consumed by inflation. They lied to you the recession never ended, this was planned to economically collapse the united states dollar. Once that is complete, they are moving all international currency exchanges over into SDRs under the international monetary fund.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Uraluni

      Who is this mysterious "they" of which you speak?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Texan

      Excellent post. Inflation has been gaining momentum for the last 18 months or so, but the Fed and the Sec. of Treasury choose to ignore it. But anyone that goes to the grocery store, gas station, or hardware store certainly realize it. It seems they deliberately trying to crash the dollar.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. a disgrace

    obama has quietly been removed from the debt talks and sent back to doing nothing as usual.most likely getting ready for another vacation as soon as the deal is made....

    July 29, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • lloyd roberts

      Nobody took more vacations than the guy that preceded him, even when he was in Washington he was on vacation. That man was truly an American disgrace

      July 29, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • vorticist

      Spoken like a true hater. Your comment is devoid of content. Clearly you don't know the man or the issue. You are incapable of learning anything because you simply don't want to.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. modza

    Isn't this exciting? Teachers, I hope you're focusing your 4th and 5th grade civics classes on this!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ken

    Fire these jacka**'s they can't play well with others and are just screwing us all over .. again..!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rosalie Bhatnagar

    I see Lobbyists as the root of our problem. They court politicians for their own interests and give them money to do their bidding. Of course politicians should be above all that, but they need money and "everyone else does it". So the logical thing to do is to ban Lobbyists. It should be considered blackmail to offer or give congressmen money assuming it is for some special interest. Make all contributions transparent. That is in the long run, of course. For now.....agree to reduce the debt by cutting back on all expenses (tho' some may be more than others) and raise the damn ceiling for the time-being. And stop blaming the Democrats for the crazy Bush plan of LESS TAXES AND MORE EXPENSE (unneccessary war, drug plans etc).

    July 29, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. JMarie

    WHERE'S OBAMA? Have not seen him since his address to the nation last week! DOW just opened and what a surprise it's already down 90+ points. The banks and auto industry we bailed out with the "stimulus package" should be in congress straightening this mess out, because they obviously know what strings to pull in a crisis.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • ithink

      What do you mean "where's Obama?" I see constant reports of his involvement. The Dow is down because of the tea party idiots. This whole thing is a product of their idiocy. They want to hold the whole country hostage and extort us to get their way, which the majority of the country doesn't agree with (continuing tax cuts for the rich, cutting medicare and social security, etc.) They are making things much worse. Saving the auto industry was one of the success stories of the recession. Probably more than a million jobs saved, and GM/Chrysler are paying the government back.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      I hope you saw him today!!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chantelle

    the government needs to keep social security and raise taxes

    July 29, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. db

    Oh great. Now our President Obama is going to come on TV at 9:30ET and point the finger at the Republicans and say they are "very very bad men". Instead of leading the nation this boob is just pointing fingers and redirecting the blame for his failed economic policies and practices since he took office. This loser has to be replaced in 2012 with someone, Republican or Democrat, that has some leadership and diplomatic skills as well as the ability to improve the economic status of this country. Right now Obama is still on his socialistic path as leared from Cloward & Piven at Cloumbia University. Obama's intent is to overwhelm the economic and governemnt systems with a aSocialistic/Marxist state with the idea that we need a large goverment for survival, thus giving the Democrats the purpose to increase government to the point were it sees all and does all and we have no choice.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • crazymad

      You must be rich. The congress members (R) are holding out to protect the rich. Pigs will fly before they care about those in need. They held us at gunpoint in December with Unemployment and now they are doing it again. I hope the few low income Republicans vote out these idiots or get them impeached because serously, you are screwed too.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • concerned4Fla

      I see it quite differently. Corporations are as powerful as governments right now–government has a role to protect citizens from pollution, fraud, scams, encroachments, tainted or unsafe food, contract breaches–anything a corporation might do that would negatively impact Joe citizen or unfairly impact another business.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • SeniorMomentNY

      @ db - if you think this is "Obama's fault" you are delusional!! It is not up to him to develop a plan! It's up to Congress! Obama walked into a NIGHTMARE DEBT RACKED UP BY BUSH AND HIS REPUBLICAN CRONIES OVER 8 YEARS – Wanton spending on ILLEGAL WARS ABROAD THAT WE ARE STILL EMESHED IN – not to mention how many times he raised the debt ceiling, and the tax cuts he gave that furthered our economic crisis!!!! Obama and the Dems. have bent over backwards offering concessions – even offering up significant cuts to their traditionally "sacred cow" programs like Medicaid/Medicare, and no matter WHAT they offer...there's Boehner boy et al saying NO! The negotiations were nearly "there" but the Republicans WALKED AWAY BECAUSE THE LOGIC OF US AS A COUNTRY HAVING TO INCREASE TAX REVENUE MEANT ALL OF THE REPUBLICANS RICH SUPPORTERS AND CORPORATE MOGULS WOULD HAVE TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE.

      Go to virtually ANY

      July 29, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • SeniorMomentNY

      Go to virutally ANY news media (except for Faux News that is...but they're not actually a news provider....) in the WORLD and you will see that all the experts are united in placing blame for the impasse on the Republicans. Their behavior has been intractable (because they're nuts are in a bunch because the extremist Tea Baggers are calling the shots), uncooperative, childish and rude. The world cannot believe how ridiculous and uncompromising the Republicans are being!!! We should be mortified at their behavior. And hopefully learning a lesson that the Republicans and Tea Partiers have ONLY ONE GOAL - PROTECTING THE RICH CORPORATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS AND HELPING THEM TO AMASS EVEN MORE WEALTH. This is CLASS WARFARE!!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. 129dcb

    This is all vey exciting, but can we please go back to a two-party system now? I don't think we're ready for a parliamentary democracy.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin A

    Voodoo Economics finally coming home to bite it's sponsors in the butt.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. Thanks welfare prez

    56 years old, my savings GONE, my retirement GONE, making 1/3 of what I made in 2004-2007, oh thanks obama because its your economy and you have ruined my life and my kids lifes and I hold you personnally responsible along with Reid, Pelosi, the rest of the Dems and the Rino Repubs like McCain, I honestly hope you all get your paybacks someday.

    Like Change, Well America you got it and once a great nation is reduced to a WELFARE state, thanks. The American Dream is DEAD and its obama's fault.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • frances

      this is NOT Obama's fault this problem was brewing before he was even in politics

      July 29, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • crazymad

      That was Bush with his rich Wall Street buddies who caused you to loose your income Not Obama. Bush bailed out the banks for over a Trillion dollars and they in turn raised interest rates and have not PAID BACK A DIME. Blame the rich, not the poor.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      If by ruined your life you mean inherited an economic collapse and was unable to get additional jobs creation and stimulus through congress due to republican filibusters then yes he ruined your life. Damn if only Obama hadn't agreed to all of the banking deregulation in 1999... if only.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. frances

    I've always loved Gergen. Such a level headed man.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Centrist

    i vote for pizza

    July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    Now we're going to have to raise the debt ceiling even higher to account for the increased interest payments due to the triple A credit rating of the USA being downgraded. Good job, Tea Party!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
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