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. Peter Goesinya

    Thanks Washington for f-ing things up again. Vote them out! All of them.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.D. Barron

      Damn sure don't pay ANY Congressmen or Senators OR Obama.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cameo35

    ................THE TEA PARTY HOLDING AMERICA HOSTAGE , THEY'RE THE NEW HOMEGROWN TERRORIST.....................................................................................THEY DONT CARE IF AMERICA GO DOWN THE TUBES,,,,,,,,,

    July 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ekrit

      Well, they do wear pirate hats at their rallies. They are making America walk the plank.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cathyinMN

    Everyone keeps talking about the Presiden'ts plan. It's the Congress' job to come up with the plan for Presidential approval not the other way around. He can suggest what he would like to see, which he has done through negotiations chaired by the VP. This could have been solved weeks ago during the talks between Boehner, Reid and the President EXCEPT for the TEA PARTY (and Eric Cantor getting in the way). HAD the GOP agreed to the end of the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250K this would all be over. This one concession on their part would have been sufficient considering the Dems compromised on everthing else. NOW we have this mess. GOP, I hope you all enjoyed the time you spent in Congress because you all will be looking for new jobs soon enough!

    July 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      As long as rich people's money fuels campaign contributions for Congress, nothing is going to change.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    I had no idea that my 40s and 50s were going to be absolute hell thanks to the wingnuts that profess to run our government. I wish I could immigrate to another country where people with brains run things and don't act like spoiled brat children.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve M

    This is the most sickening display of dysfunctional government imaginable. We voted these people into office to govern our country and they are failing miserably. I will not vote for any member of our current congress at the next election. We need people who can get the job done and our current representatives are not doing it.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lar

    Rasputin, I agree the tea party believes it–but that doesn't make it so. Going into a self-imposed default would only exacerbate our financial condition. Should we actually fail to pay our creditors for expenses already incurred, we will likely see a global economic collapse that would result in further job loss, less revenue and a larger US debt. Interest on that debt would increase significantly, further inhibiting economic recovery. If you care about this country you do not want a default.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jay

    cameo35 You can not be serious. So far they are the only ones in Washington to keep their word. Maybe you can count Obama's word "CHANGE" How do you like it now?

    July 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sheldon Collins

    Food for thought,
    Some little third world individual once said,"When elephants are at war, the grass suffers." Hey, don't the tea partiers call themselves a grass-root movement. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. charles bowen

    Another Example of the Republican'ts doing something that they know will amount to nothing . Obstructionist Politics. Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    July 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ekrit

    Maybe as engineers we can design "tea party" lanes in our Interstate highways. They will be the un-paved, un-maintained lanes. Since the tea party apparantly wants us to "get back to basics" they can ride their horse and buggies down the bumpy stretch. They are either completely clueless or like the idea of anarchy and de-civilization. "god guns and guts". I myself don't want to resort back to "homesteading".

    July 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheldon Collins

      They could call them H.O.V. (have other vission) lanes.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hatz

    The US will not cause a self-inflicted default but this indecision has taken much wealth taken out of the market this week. Thanks Washington...bunch of bureaucratic asses.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ptoohey

    I have to admit, I'm kinda surprised at the bias being shown by most news personnel in this budget matter. I used to think FOX was the only really slanted view out there. I guess it's all a matter of whose politically biased buttons get pushed.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. benny

    HA HA HA AMerica! You get what you vote for. You voted in a bunch of right wing extremist racists and now look at what is happening. Where are all the JOBS they promised? All they care about is making Obama look bad. Once he is gone you will never hear from the teabaggers again.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. IBON4IT

    I believe this "debate" is a Republican political power play, pure and simple. There are 2 possible outcomes, both of which are not good for Obama.

    1) Obama uses his Presidential powers to protect public debt and unilaterally raises the debt ceiling. Result: Republicans call it illegal and the House brings him up on impeachment charges they can't make stick but embroils Obama in an impeachment trial going into 2012.

    2) Obama let's the U.S. default on it's debts. The resulting economic collapse decimates the average American though, as usual, the rich get richer. Result: Republicans point to Obama's Depression going into 2012.

    Boehner is trying to run out the clock with his DOA proposal hoping to set Obama on a course for impeachment but has economic collapse as Plan B. SIMPLE.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Leslie M

    Shame on all of them. If these people were truly children, instead of acting like them, they'd be sent to stand in the corner.

    I am embarrassed by this spectacle of our country unable to govern itself.

    July 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
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