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. jimbo

    Senator Reid's Democratic proposal does not address medicare cuts. It must be tackled now, not later.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bimbo

      jimbo! read nate's comment! try to comprehend.

      July 30, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. nate

    I'm pretty tired of explaining the debt ceiling, but it just seems that people are completely unaware of what it is. The debt ceiling has NOTHING to do with spending. It is simply the limit the government can legally borrow to pay for, wait for it, PAST expenditures. Budget reform has no place in the debt ceiling debate.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomFoolery

      Perhaps you are tired of "explaining" it, because your explanation is entirely false. The debt ceiling has everything to do with spending. The ceiling, the budget, and taxation policy are inextricably interlinked. PAST expenditures are those which have already been paid for with irresponsible borrowing. The root of the fallacy here is that planned future expenditures are NOT equivalent to past ones. That is misinformation. Conflating past and future spending is also at the root of the ludicrous "14th Amendment" false argument.

      People who don't understand this are so out of touch with reality, and competent use of the English language, that they may be beyond hope. There is a very clear, and very obvious difference between things you have planned to buy, but have not yet bought, and things you have already bought and paid for with borrowed money. If you can't figure that out, cease with trying to "explain" anything to anyone.

      July 30, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anon81

    They need to get over themselves and tax the wealthy. I pay my taxes, and Social security is in that, so if they aren't giving that money to those who retire or NEED it after other people have paid into it, then I would be inclined to believe that something that isn't quite right and rather foul is going on behind closed doors with tax payers money.

    Republican beliefs: Who cares if millions go homeless and starve so long as the rich don't loose any extra money that problem hasn't seen the light of day in years.

    Their logic is flawed and if they can't do their jobs for the people ALL of the people apart of this nation, then they need replaced with people who actually WILL do the job.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Deb61978

    Wow, I Give Up!! I Don't Trust Any Of Them--Puking Now!

    July 30, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dan1954

    Has anyone thought of massive recall elections next year..? Every seat up for election!!!!!

    July 30, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • generalizationsarebad


      July 30, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. TomTheTaxPayer

    I would suggest a few of you wake up and smell reality. The government simply cannot continue to spend like a drunken kleptocrat. We are broke!

    There are not enough free market wages in the US economy to tax our way out of wild spending. It would destroy the economy. We'd end up like every other foolish nation that has tried it: broke, broken, and poor.

    Haven't you ever stopped to ponder why President Obama and Senator Reid have not written down a reviewable plan and submitted it to the Congressional Budget Office for scrutiny?

    They don't have a plan with real numbers, that's why.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Tom, while you may be right. The damage to the economy has already been done by this fiasco, thanks to both party's. It's like a car accident and we see the gas tank leaking. We are now just waiting to see if the car catches fire and burns.

      July 30, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. GTH888

    As much as I disagree with the Tea-baggers, they did materialize some seriousness about working toward reducing our national debt, something that has been a mere procrastination thus far. But the most critical thing to address immediately is the debt ceiling increase. All the finger-pointing and banter over the last 4 days has amounted to no progression toward a solution and its very directly affecting American people. Come August 2nd, if the status quo persists, President Obama must seriously consider exercising the 14th Amendment, Section 4 and sanction an debt ceiling increase.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. saaaly

    not sure where things stand, but one thing is for sure. anderson cooper is a f ag!

    July 30, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. kay

    They need to pay out the social security ,i and husband paid into it,plus the military,I heard someone equate ss to welfare,it is not welfare,worked all my is not chairty,congress needs to lose all their wages

    July 30, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. NP

    If these folks cannot get this strenghten out before the deadline, perhaps we should put their salaries at the top of what will not be paid on Aug 2, 2011. Maybe that will be a good incentive for all of them to stop wasting time and money and come to an agreement. You can't really run for re-election if you don't have money coming in.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bazoing

    Whatever they do they better let the Bush tax cuts lapse.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |

    To be great requires great leaders where are ours? Forget a tea party, for get a democrat, forget a republican we are AMERICA! Don’t forget it!!!

    July 30, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. kay

    just heard there might be a problem if they pay ss,by the way thats not their money,thats money taken out of the americans wages for retirement,i never gave anyone permission to use my money,

    July 30, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |


    July 30, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. kay

    Nikita Khrushchev once said i do not have to harm you,you will destroy yourselves,we are on our way

    July 30, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
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