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. john

    Are americans prepared to march into Washington and arrest the congressional republicans ?

    Stop the debate, all the talk, the writing, etc.

    Arrest all republicans. the charge: Treason.


    July 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Find a rallying point and assembly area for people to meet.
      Otherwise, you're just blowing into the wind.
      I'll be honest, I've never before watched a group play russian roulette with a machine gun before!

      July 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Congressional Republicans are literally holding the American economy hostage in order to extract as ransom political concessions they'd never be able to pass otherwise. They are threatening to deliberately harm the economy and credit of the United States–and millions of Americans–if their demands are not met. In any other context, we would call this terrorism and they'd be facing federal charges. These negligent criminals need to be worrying about a perp walk, not their re-election.

      July 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Omg

      Meet you in Boehners office.

      July 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruth

      Are you serious? You have fallen right into the trap. Our economy is in crisis and all these people who run our country have the guts to get on national TV and continue in the " blame" game. They have no respect for the people in this country, it's all about a popularity contest, which everyone is sick of. Fix the problem and don't report anything until it's done. Democrats, republicans, Teaparty...who cares, get over yourselves and do your job!!! This is beyond disgraceful.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kylie

    The republicans are just wasting time hoping that the economy collaspes

    July 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruth

      childish....empty thought

      July 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill from MS

    I think the treasury should step up and let congress know that given the debt issue hecks will not be issued to congress or their staff.

    July 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      No can do. It's unconst i tutional to change congress or the president's pay while congress is in an elected session. It can only be changed for the next election.

      July 29, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. r

    Why did the Democrats wait to the very end to submit a budgit of their own? They are the party of NO!

    July 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Omg

      I will not give you a history lesson. Go read how government works and then you will understand.

      July 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MOMOF2

    Can someone tell me a few things about taxes? Why the US does not have a standard tax rate paid by all, individuals, families and companies? Why do we have all of these tax breaks that allow big companies to not pay taxes, or single parent families to take home a bigger tax refund than the actual taxes that they pay in? Why do we provide so much aid to other countries before taking care of our elderly that helped make our country what it is? My grandmother was a teenager and working at her first job when social security was started. She got less income after retirement per month after working hard and contributing her whole life than some immegrants who were just legalized. It is no wonder our country is so in debt...

    July 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Luke

      I hear ya! The only solution is a revolution. Period.

      July 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cruiser808

    The Republicans wasted precious time arguing with each other over this bill, knowing full well that it had no chance of passing through the Senate. Why? Now when the Democratic controlled Senate rejects it, they can blame the Democrats and accuse them of not having the best interests of this country at heart. It's all a political game and the American people are going to be the losers.

    July 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Luke

      I'm not for either party, but has the Senate offered up a solution?

      July 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Wright

    Are the consequences so horrible if the Boehner bill is signed into law than the US defaulting on it's debt? Obama and the democrats can avoid this by caving to save America no?

    July 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • HowcanweexplainittoRicky

      Yes the bill is horrible. The middle class is saying no, we want the wealthy top 1.9 to pay some taxes finally and close the loopholes of the people who avoid paying no taxes. We want jobs back in the USA or if you outsource your company you pay something to bring your product back in. I would go on but you would not understand. If you have read the posts at all today you would know

      July 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LS

    Are the Senate Dems the party of DOA? Where is the compromise Democrats are screaming about? Why do Democrats continue to say "it's dead on arrival", and don't bother to bring these bills up for a vote? One must ask do the Democrats really care about the debt crisis in this country?

    July 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • HowcanweexplainittoLucy

      I was going to explain it to you, but your wrong and a republican idiot.

      July 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. a disgrace

    even when the debt bill passes a failing america still remains without a president in a depression!

    July 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goofy

      ... and that depression was started by a Republican. Give credit where credit is due.

      July 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rmcclain

    "All 53 Senate Democrats have promised to oppose the plan if it is passes the House. Democratic leaders in the Senate have said the chamber is prepared to immediately vote on – and defeat – the speaker's plan if the House approves it."

    In other words, not read any of it just like the stimulus plan they passed and the Obama care plan which racked up over a trillion in debt combined! I wish they would honestly work it out rather than banter like old school rivals. Unfortunately all anyone in Washington cares about is whether or not they get elected next term.

    July 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. George Bush

    I did this. Put it where it belongs. President Obama was willing to pay more taxes, republicans will not give up the wealthiest. You must be rolling in dough or an idiot.

    July 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Zog

    Who is John Galt?

    July 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Linda

    Tonight, one of your commentators stated that President Obama lost 30,000 followers on Twitter. What he failed to mention is that the President has over 9 million followers on Twitter. That means that today he lost less than one percent of the people who were previously following him. Your commentator did not explain how small this percentage was, but rather made it sound as though the loss of this number of Twitter followers reflected a significant loss of support for the Presidentl. I think this is an example of very biased reporting, which is below the standards of CNN.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thatdude

    How can any moderately intelligent person want to pass the Republican's bill? Why would anyone want to put America's fragile economy through the uncertainty of another debt ceiling debate? That plan will be rejected, President Obama will invoke the 14th amendment with the Republicans then trying to impeach him, and President Obama will then win re-election in 2012 due to the divide in the Republican party caused by the Tea Party, their weak presidential candidate field, and their inability to connect with minorities(gay/lesbian, black/latino/muslims) and poor/middle-class(especially union workers). Am I right or what??

    July 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. paul boris

    Seems like a balance budget amendment takes authority away from the Office of the President (all from President Obama and into the future) and gives it to Congress (if not solely the House). The criticism of President Obama socialist views, that I think is a talking point and not real - is being met with a Tea Party dictatorship – my talking point. Cuts to social security, medicare, raise retirement age... very nice changes from a group that does not need a weekly pay check.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
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