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. Goofy

    Let's assume your a Republican who adores Ronald Reagan. Do you realize that with the Boener bill, Reagan's policies would have been DOA. He couldn't have done it with a balanced budget. In fact, during his 2 terms in office, he in fact tripled the national debt. Search for the facts. They're available if you care.

    Also, imagine trying to fight another WWII with an amendment for a balanced budget. It wouldn't work. You'd have to muster up congress and go through the lengthy ordeal of getting them to hopefully agree to sidestep an amendment in order to fight a war. And, they'd need to do it annually. What you ask for is something that your own favorite Republican presidents have never been able to achieve.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • NJBChicago

      If they write the legislation to provide flexibility in times of need it would work. If states can do it, the federal government can. Anything less is a sham.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. it's all related

    It’s all related! The myth that
    illegal aliens only hold jobs that American workers won’t do is just that — a
    myth. Recent studies estimate that 20 percent of cooks, 25 percent of
    construction workers, 22 percent of maids and housekeeping personnel, and 25
    percent of groundskeepers are illegal aliens. In addition, 40 percent of
    illegal aliens are visa overstays, many of whom take high-end jobs from

    When fast-food company Chipotle was audited and hundreds of its illegal
    workers were fired, American citizens lined up the next day for a chance to
    work at those jobs. . .

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data from last year show that 98.3
    percent of employees were confirmed as work-authorized instantly or within 24
    hours using E-Verify. A 2009 report by research firm Westat found that those
    eligible to work are immediately confirmed 99.5 percent of the time.

    E-Verify is free, very accurate and reduces paperwork for American

    Please put your efforts into helping the truly down and out Americans. Please put your efforts in helping mothers,
    fathers, teenagers find work. There are generations of families who cannot
    with the under the table dealings of illegal’s and have gone out of
    business. Fax your representative today. Faxes and calls work and
    faxes are free at
    NumbersUSA…..(there is POWER in Numbers, look it up and just do it!)

    July 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    We have a jobs crisis, not a debt crisis. Only one thing will dig US out and that's jobs. Most do not even realize, that just to break-even about 150,000 jobs must be created each month. Taxing "the rich" sounds quaint, but it won't create w50,000 jobs next month. Nothing will. Game over. America was sold down the river years ago. What? You thought it started with this last downturn? That was just one of their belches. Wait till they puke on US.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charlie

    The add running on CNN about screwing future generations makes me think. Future generations, like us, will get some debt and infrastructure and property that are so much greater. What is the rub? And giving Obama a blank check? Congress votes on spending bills. The Republicans are lying to you while they complain about lying. This has turned strange

    July 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JP

    The Republicans and their bending over to the Tea Baggers whom the American public in majority CLEARLY doesn't support have PROVEN once in for all they are a useless bunch of morons giving it all to coroporate America. They have the dumb idiots among us convinced that the $60 in food stamps their elderly neighbor gets is what bankrupted this country and not the 5 trillion in tax cuts to the oil companys, the tax write offs for the corporate jets and yachts and the UNFOUNDED and unfunded war in Iraq and the war in Afganastan. I will vote a straight democratic ticket in the next election.....not that they thrill me either but at least they haven't lost their minds...oh wait...that would be assuming tea baggers had minds..which they do not.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • blf83

      Amen. And, I, too,will vote straight democratic. The Repubs have sold their souls to the Tea Party devils.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Virtually every Congressperson, especially the democrats, voted "yes" for the War on Iraq. Now don't try telling me that YOU know that these wars and occupations are illegal, but your democrat leaders didn't know and so voted oout of ignorance. The "I'm stupid" defense doesn't cast the best light.

    July 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. a disabled person

    If it doesn't pass by the 2nd and I don't get my ssdi on the 3rd me and my family will be out on the street! Can we live with YOU MR. PRESIDENT?????!!!!!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Broken and Useless Political parties

      can you live with the republicans too?

      July 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Black Ops 4302 Gamer Nerd Alert

      @ a disabled: They will allow Nazi meetings in front of the White House, but no you may not camp out there. They are trying to scare everyone. We have an election coming up so everyone now has to seem busy. Both parties are like little children. You'll see everything will be fine or this will end up like the boy who cried wolf..

      July 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NJBChicago

    I'm listening to the Democratic leadership in the Senate. These people have done NOTHING to try to work with ANY of the bills sent over to them by the House. They talk about filibuster. What the heck have THEY done? Couldn't they take what just passed as a starting point??????????? Whatever. All I'm hearing is blame, blame blame. Well, you know what Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Dick Derbin we've had enough of your do nothing crap. You've been waiting for this moment to get up and say these things. To base your $2 trillion on what was already planned is a sham. If THAT is what you and Obama want then I think the Republicans are RIGHT to filibuster. We don't want smoke and mirrors. We want CHANGE, NOW!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjb

      What's ironic about most republicans is your either stinking rich and are ok with saying you are greedy or are incompetent like the above poster (and most Americans) and just don't realize that if we repeal the Bush tax cuts for the uber rich, we would be fine. Let me say that again slowly for our two digit IQ republicans – if we repeal the Bush tax cuts for the uber rich, we will be fine. Wake up and smell the coffee your congressmen are serving their corporate slave masters and not you. It's a shame you can't see through the trees on this one.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pat

    Do you honestly think that Washington cares for the working class of this country!? We'd save a whole lot of billions if we don't pay Congress, the Senate, and the House of Representatives until this mess is cleared up. Let what they are trying to shove down our throats be the same for them. They are suppose to be working for the "people" and look what a mess they have made.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Broken and Useless Political parties

      I agree. They are worthless. How about we cut their salaries by 2/3's, then overhaul the whole system since its broken.

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

    Has anyone suggested that the Congress take a pay cut and their benefits taken away????

    July 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • lewtwo

      No one that they will listen to ....

      July 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. srichey

    The repubs told us their number one priority is to make sure Obama is a one term president. I guess deliberately destroying the economy and blaming him for it is somehow seen as representing the people who voted them into office.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RICK

    i find it ironic that house speakers on party memebers wouldnt play ball when they were told to get there asses in line and vote for his proposed bill. but looks like the tables were turned and he himself had to get his ass in line for them. one thing for sure the democrats are at least on the same page, while the republicans are a party of two with in themselves. i noticed that 22 republicans still voted against the bill. how can they ask the democrats to go along with there proposal, when the first draft had to be fine tuned for the tea bag party, and still didnt get 100 percent of there own partys vote. lets face the facts, the two parties hardly agree on anything, except maybe how much of a raise they should give themselves. if it wasnt for thowing blame around and name calling what would they have to talk about. which ever party controls the white house, the other sides duty is to tell us everything there doing wrong, so we can vote there guy in. then it starts all over again. for as i can see there all (past and present) to blame for spending money we as country dont have. every time a bill is passed we hear how its filled with other items that each senator and congressman want for there states. they have done that to the american people for ever. i think there called pork bellies. i am not sure if by this next tuesday either side will get a debt ceiling bill passed thru both chambers, if not i say we fire every SOB. there are alot of people still looking for work! i

    July 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjb

      Fact – the tea bag party was simply started to weaken the Democratic party. Same republican shat, different smell.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. blf83

    Yesterday, I suggested that Republicans vote Tea Partiers off the island. At this point, ANYONE of either party who is not voting to end this debacle should resign because of their incompetence.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Debasis

    Stop whining and vote appropriately. This happens when a bunch of ignorant moron teabaggers get elected a bunch of morons voting for them.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Broken and Useless Political parties

      I agree. Time for the tea bagger idiots to go, they are all getting voted out!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Broken and Useless Political parties


    Both political parties are garbage. They can't agree to get anything done that is the best thing for the majority of Americans. Time for a new system, or to overhaul the system we have, so this type of crap doesn't happen. Right now? Both political parties are corrupt, broken, and don't work.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
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