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. Ancient Texan

    lloyd roberts- During the Bush administration, before Pelosi and Reid and the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, unemployment was under 5%, the deficit was $161 billion, not trillions, and the stock market (Dow) was near 14,000. I'd take the Bush years in a heartbeat over the chaos of the Obama nightmare.

    July 29, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      You sir, are in denial. Check your numbers again. Did you know that Bush raised the debt-ceiling 7 times in his 8 years? He falsely funded two wars overseas on the backs of seniors (stealing from SS). He is responsible for all the bailouts (as he signed it before he left office). Wow....amnesia much?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • hiawa23

      You had two wars star under Bush, Unfunded prescription drug plan, the tax breaks, so are you being serious when you are trying to put this all on Obama. You are kidding, right?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • hiawa23

      This mess started long before we ever heard of Obama, but some of you are comical...

      July 29, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • frances

      Bush only had one agenda while in office – take down Saddam Hussein – mission accomplished! Now, how can I help my rich friends?

      July 29, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • FlipFlopMuch?

      Ancient Texan – I love how during the Bush years you blame everything on "the Democrat Congress", but now with the Republicans controlling the house, you blame everything on the President. That's SOME flip-flopping!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • OmastilRockn

      Bush raised the debt ceiling several times, and got us into 2 wars that have cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. I will take Obama over Bush anyday

      July 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • tes

      Fixer2010 – There is an order of magnitude difference between $161B deficit and a $1.6 T deficit. Did you learn math? The deficit has to be dramatically reduced – no matter what programs suffer – we simply cannot continue to borrow $.40 for every dollar we spend. The president doesn't get it, the Dems don't get it, and many Republicans don't get it.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Nope

      71% of our current debt was accrued in the Bush years. You want to go back to that?

      July 29, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Vesstair

      "Deficit" under Bush did not include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for sure. I THINK it did not include medicare part D. Under Obama, it includes everything. False equivalences are false.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • MSfromCA

      Ancient Texan – Look up who increased the debt the most as a percentage of GDP since 1945, Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2 – interesting.... Obama is headed for this list too, but its clear what the problem is – cutting taxes without cutting spending, passing unfunded programs, and starting wars without increasing taxes.

      July 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawn

      AMEN Ancient Texan...You said it ALL!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • termite

      Bush contributed to the present deficit with his tax cuts to the wealthy in 2001 and 2003 that totaled 1.6 trillion. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan : 1.3 trillion. So please, don't blame Obama for the condition of the economy. Reducing government spending without increasing revenues (taxes on the wealthy) will result in additional layoffs and therefore worsening of the economy. Since the republicans want a 6 months deal that will include cuts in government spending, why don't we increase their taxes for 6 months and renegotiate afterwards?

      July 30, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Fixer2010

    What is wrong with Reid's plan, anyway?

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

      Obama stopped the great recession, and Osama Bin Ladin, but a very few no voters are trying to stop life as we knew it in the US.. Please call your congressmen and senators today, don't our economy be destroyed. I would rather live in the United States of America than the United States of the International Monetary Fund.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      It includes $1 trillion of reduction that is already going to occur. In other words, it is a $1.2 trillion plan that increases the debt $2.7 trillion. He does include a commission to look for additional savings (or revenue) after the fact. In short, it really is a quasi compromise to get past the election. At this point, I think both parties are crazy.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • jrm

      @David Guzman:

      US of IMF? Research who the largest contributor of to the IMF is.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Johnson

    The President has tried to compromise. Those Tea Party Congressmen should be ashamed of themselves putting the Nation thru this, They will all be voted out in 2012 as obstructions and a danger to our National Security, Go with Reid's plan and stop this nonsense.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • tes

      What have you been paying attention to? The president hasn't put out any plan and he has been as adamant about boosting revenues as the republicans have about no tax increases. What he hasn't done is LEAD. He got us into this mess with Obamacare, the stimulous and expading the gov't to unprecedented levels. And he proposed the $1.6T deficits.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      AMEN to that! Can't wait for 2012 elections!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      @tes – sounds like you have been watching too much Fox

      July 29, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Could outline Obama's compromise plan. All I've heard is support of the Democratic plans out of the Senate. Now I agree that Republicans can't get things in order either, but Obama is no better.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |

      I agree with fixer2010 tea has been watching way to much FOX News, maybe you should watch a bit of all the other channels to kinda balance you out a bit... but of course, that is the problem with the tea party, no balance, no compromise, no nothing... I honestly think they want to start a civil war SGT RAYRAY

      July 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith in SoJax

      Problem is Johnson, as much as I detest the T-Bags, I have long thought we need a balanced budget amendment and strict rerforms on lobbying, but if we dump the trash bags and go back to stupid spending in relation to revenues, its going to be awful when we actually begin paying down this debt!

      July 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Grant

    Please tell me that the Bush tax cuts will NOT be extended as a result of the deal struck to raise the debt ceiling coupled with spending cuts!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Oh NO he Didnt!

    Old AncientTexan: You don't know. You better ask somebody! The Bush years are one of the contributing factors that got us into this mess. You people amaze me with your "it's Obama fault" rhetoric. Obama, not my hero, didn't cause this mess dude so you can cut, cap and balanced that lie; reminds me of a little tune.
    Lies and flies I do despise; The more I hear lies, the more I love flies.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • hiawa23

      fantastic response...

      July 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. maz hess

    the boat is drowning the band is playing. Darling let's dance and have fun.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Larry

    The greatest nation on earth, does also happen to be the most difficult to govern. The nation with the most brainpower does also happen to be the one that displays the most ignorance. These are just manifestations of the duality of nature.

    The overriding issue is that most Americans just cannot break free from is its racist tradition. Therefore, they keep re-electing Republicans into power because it is the party that is less tolerant of people of color. They disregard the fact that the Republicans have proven over and over that they are only interested in protecting and advancing the agenda of a very small segment of the nation’s population.

    Before the 2010 elections, the Republican mantra was ”Job! Jobs! Jobs! After they were elected en masse, in hope that they will go full throttle with job creation policies; their mantra suddenly changed to Cut! Cut! Cut! It does not take a moron not to know that making drastic cuts during a weak economy is a number one job killer.

    Do the Republicans really care about the deficit and national debt? The emphatic answer is no. They are just using the issue to manufacture a crisis that they hope would throw the president out of office in 2012. Will they succeed? Maybe. What will be the consequence? The greatest experiment in history to bring people from all races together to form a single nation fails and disintegrates.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |

      Larry, amen to that my friend, Amen to that.


      July 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fixer2010

    @Larry – Well said. Nice to know there are still rational thinkers out there.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. JT Piercefield

    The Tea Party is corporations idoits and to fix all of the problens is just to burn the house down.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. john

    Are you Americans prepared to march into Washington and
    arrest all congressional republicans ?

    Stop talking and writing/complaining/whining.....

    July 29, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      I am ready

      July 29, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      Count me in John!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      No but we are ready to arrest the Presidnet and the Democrats who won't stop the uncontrolled spending. It doesnt matter how we got to this point or who spent us into this mess. We are at this point and need to make changes to solve the problem. The Republicans proposed a plan to raise the debt limit early on in this debate but the bill also capped spending and required a balanced budget amendment. The democrats defeated it because they dont want any controls put in place to stop their spending. We do not have the revenue to spend like drunken sailors any more! It has to stop and the only way it will is by putting controls in place to limit future spending!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • hiawa23

      I don't think you want that, cause that always bring out the crazies who want to do nothing but cause violence with any excuse. If you think we can't have mad chaos in the streets like other countries you are in a pipe dream. If a segment of our population will burn cars, loot, after a sports celebration, do you not think these same would do the same if our way of life crumbles, yes, yes, & yes. I know many Americans like to think we are better than other nations, but when it comes down to it, it's dog eat dod, every man for himself when you feel threatened, & humans revert back to survival mode. Is that what these Tea Party guys want?.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. profx72

    The only things that the President and the Senate Democrats have done throughout this debate is point the "Finger of Blame" and tell the Republicans what they "Won't Do," while simultaneously demanding that the Conservative Republicans (I won't include the Progressive ones in this comment) should compromise. Well, where is the "Compromise" from the President & the Senate Dems? The House passed a complete Bill called "Cut, Cap & Balance" with full BIPARTISAN support, and the Senate Democrats wouldn't even DISCUSS it. How is that a COMPROMISE?! Nothing good can come from this type of PARTISAN BRINKSMANSHIP on the part of the Democrats.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Have you not been paying attention? Obama and the democrats (and some republicans) HAVE been compromising. Every time they come back to the table with what the Republicans want, they Republicans say "OK, now we want this, this AND this." It's the Republcans that are not willing to budge.

      And brush up on your civics, it's not the President's job to come up with the plans on his own. That's what congress is for. And he HAS proposed plans. He's compromised too. So get your facts straight.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • concerned

      Where is the full bipartisan support for "cut cap and balance" if ONLY five "bluedog" democrats voted for it?
      I would agree with you if more that 20 dems had casted their vote for this crazy measure. Things would be very different, but that is not the case and Repubs should read the signals and give in a little bit more

      July 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john

    The republicans are about to commit Treason.

    Are you ready to march into Washington and arrest all congressional republicans?

    Enough debate.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. I Mean What

    Throughout all this talk of the debt ceiling, the Republicans are now officially beginning to look like cartoon characters. The release of The Smurfs movie frames this debate in a very insightful way. Will these weirdly colored creatures survive their situations?

    July 29, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bubba

    Get ready! Here comes the BIG DIPPER.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Linda Wilson

    Don't raise the debt ceiling. It is far past time for the US to live within it's means. That means we will have a second recession – it we aren't still in the first one. We will have higher unemployment. Seniors will suffer. However, the American people got themselves into this mess by believing we can have government giving us and the world everything and not thinking about how to pay for it. The terrible times ahead will restore our ability to THINK before we continue as the World's policeman; THINK before our next military jaunt; THINK before the next stimulus package for millionaires; and most importantly THINK before our next election. I am an ashamed Republican, and although I do not disagree with everything the Tea Party supports, I am not one of them. I also cannot embrace the "give away without any thought of how we will pay for it" policies of the Democrats. I am a women without a party, and unfortunately potentially without a future. Americans must take control of themselves and notice the people hurting around them and help when they can. The government will NOT be there when you need them!!!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
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