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. TK

    The U.S Dollar is a fiat currency!!! all Fiat currencies in the past have died!!! FACT!!! go back to a silver or gold standard

    July 30, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Let me get this straight.... You don't like the dollar because it's value is back by a government. Instead you want it backed by something that has value because it's hard to find and shiny.

      How does backing our dollar with a piece of metal that has arbitrary value make it stronger?

      July 30, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Darn Liberal Press!

      @Rick – I totally agree. I'm amazed how people are willing to call gold a safe haven. There are practical uses for gold, but they are valued at about $35 an oz.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • mrbill23

      you people are so brain dead and brain washed by your party and press that it is hard to believe.
      If you would open your eyes for just a moment in time you could see what is happening.
      The press which is democratic says something and you all believe without ever checking what they say.
      Wake up america the time is coming for the revolution and you need to join in or be lost forever.

      July 30, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Darn Liberal Press!

    I'm tired of this press acting as if the Republican's and Democrats are at equal blame here. Any thinking person can see that the Democrats have compromised way too much. To think we are facing the greatest budget shortfall in history and taxes on the richest .0001% are off the table, even though they sit at a all time low. To think a hedge fund manager that makes 24 Billion a year is only paying 15% effective tax, while a working man's effective tax rate is at least twice that. Yet the Republicans call this unacceptable????? Not to mention this is a self inflicted crises brought about by the Republicans as raising the debt limit has nothing to do with future spending

    What's wrong with you GOP apologists? How about cutting back on the retard sandwiches before the next election?

    July 30, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Raising taxes on the top ".0001%" as you suggest would be a drop in the bucket revenue-wise. The govt is TOO big and spends too much. That is the problem, not revenues.

      July 30, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Darn Liberal Press!

      @Dan – Yes. Taxes should be raised on the top 20%. Glad to see to agree.

      July 30, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Concerned

    With some of the news that has come out these days, I question if politicians are forced to do a secret or better yet, a top secret clearance. I also remember a quote that my father used to tell me, "There are certain things that you can do where you will never find a job again." Honestly, let's get a list of our current House and Senate, and make sure this shows up on their credit and criminal background checks. They should never have jobs again if this ends badly. Can we sue our politicians for falsely providing information on their resumes? Let's see all of their resumes... The US is the biggest customer in the world so how can you not get credit, and the US has some of the most advanced companies in the world, IBM, Microsoft, and HP from a tech perspective so how can this country have money problems? These politicians are not good officers in our company if you look at the US as a company. Can the President force a re-election for our Board of Directors?

    July 30, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Darn Liberal Press!

    @Dan – by the way, thanks for proving my GOP apologist statement to be true.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. vege

    I do not know what to say after seing drama played in congress.They are playing with lives of people but they think they are diong their job.All these guys forgeot the word compromise and it became a dirty word.Every day we all compramise and we do not get what we want all the time.Wake up Amririca and see what kind of people we elected and I am ashmed of these guys and made sick onmy stomach.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dale Wiggins

    I would hope that one thing comes from this debt ceiling fiasco if nothing else does. That would be that in future elections that people stop and think about the person they are about to vote for. I am ashamed of my government. Sadly though we will not see the change in government that we need until the citizens of this country start filling the streets of DC with peaceful protest and we stop electing people who are self-serving and not people serving. Corporate lobbyists need to be shown the door and not allowed back in the halls of Congress. Congress has created a new form of legal slavery by allowing the extremely wealthy to escape taxes and causing working class citizens to have to take or keep any job they can just to survive. It is a sad time to be a citizen of this once great country. My dad fought in WWII but he did not fight for this mess. Shame on all of us!

    July 30, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jake

    So encouraging to see that the date of the next election plays a role in negotiations. At some point we might want to consider electing people who have the country as their top priority, not getting re-elected. The founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Socrates

    I think the government is too big and cuts should be made, however, it is amazing to see how the Republicans protect the wealthy so much and still poor or middle class vote for them. I am not saying that the Democrats are great but you don't other choice if you work for living. I will have to be stupid to vote for the Republicans, I am not wealthy, it is simple as that.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Socrates

    I think the government is too big and cuts should be made, however, it is amazing to see how the Republicans protect the wealthy so much and still poor or middle class vote for them. I am not saying that the Democrats are great but you don't have other choice if you work for living. I will have to be stupid to vote for the Republicans, I am not wealthy, it is simple as that.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dale Wiggins

    Everyone wants to blame Congress for this poor government that we have. If you vote, blame yourself. If you don't vote blame yourself. The powers that be in this country have us right where they want us. Large blocks of people don't vote and to many of us that do generally have to choose between the lesser of two evils. Republican and Democrats are equally to blame. There is more government waste than we can imagine and both parties are part of that waste. Look at the Tea Party candidates who promised to reduce or eliminate farm subsidies. How many of them were confirmed to actually be receiving farm subsidies? It's become the worst form of white collar crime. Look at the cozy compensation package that "our" representatives and senators receive. Geeez.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Darn Liberal Press!

      I'm tired of people like you saying both parties should be blamed equally. This is not true. Yes. Washington overspends, but the record shows the Republicans overspend more than Democrats. Yes, there are corporate shills in both parties, but the Republican's have taken tax cuts for corporation that ship jobs overseas and make billions if profit to the next level. Stop saying they are at equal blame. They are not... You are part of the problem.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dale Wiggins

    Here's an example of waste in the form of a question: Should Medicare/Medicaid pay for a prescription of Viagra for an 80 year old man that is in a wheelchair and on oxygen?

    July 30, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Concerned

    Here's what I think is a load of crap most other countrys don't even have a debt ceiling why do we? Our government needs to stop spending its money on frivilous projects generated in our lawmakers home towns. We need to cease all aid to foreign countries no matter the reason. All three branches of this govt need to immediately take a 40% reduction in pay. Welfare, Medicad should be eliminated to those under the age of 55 and to those who make more than 20,000 per year. We also need to do away with the lobbyists who pay our lawmakers to vote in thier favor. The system is flawed it needs to be fixed it doesn't matter who's in charge Dems or Rep. A 5 ton elephant in the room creates a lot of poo and you should never stand behind a donkey because hes going to kick you right in the mouth when you do.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. David Feldman

    There is no question that this problem is manufactured by the right wing of the republican party and that the moderates have failed to look after the well fair of the American people and given in to a very dangerous stategy. While both parties are responsible for the current problem, it is these few who refuse to govern and would rather see the country and it citizens suffer hardship by pushing their agenda rather than compromise on a solution that will work. A compromise means that we cut spending and increase revenue to address the problem. The problem is the debt and not the debt ceilling. The mounting debt is the result of waste, poorly managed programs, unnecessary entiltements, excessive esculating costs in health care and education, an excessive military with world wide oblications that are none of our bussiness involving us in unjustified wars. On the revenue side we have a tax code and financial policy that favors the wealthies citizens. These are the people who get the bails out and tax loop holes that allows them to become even richer while the rest of us have seen our purchasing power deline for decades.

    This is what we need to focus on and resolve and not push an agenda that will only make the situation worse. This can only happen if we have true compromise among our elected officials with give and take from both sides. If we fail to move in this direction then our democracy with all that means is in danger.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. Candicemarie

    I agree on the part for raise taxes and cut governments paychecks. We only have one income right now. I'm more worried about my grandparents right now. With Old Soldiers statement about cutting Medicare and fading out Social Security what's going to happen to them. What's completely wrong is that there using the money we and they have put into it and using it not for the purpose intended, but where they felt it was needed.

    How many people think that with the way the debt ceiling debate is going that we won't reach a deal, and we'll default?

    July 30, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dale Wiggins

    Someone posted that the idea of taxing the top tier of people who have what has been stated as 95% of the money as "a drop in the bucket". I say give us that drop and then get more drops from other prominent sources. I worked in state and county government for about 20 years. I live in a rural area that has many second homes. When it came time to pay property taxes I found that the first persons to pay were the elderly and especially those on fixed incomes. The last and most difficult to collect were those second home owners who could have paid at any time. And a large sector of those people would always complain that the property taxes in our rural county were higher than those they paid on their primary home in Miami or Atlanta or wherever they were from. It's the same thing in this debate of who should pay more or have their benefits reduced. I'm guessing that the poor and those on fixed incomes will be the ones to pay for it in the end. Let's borrow some more money from China and give these wealthy folks and businesses some more "incentive" money. They did so much good with it the last time around didn't they?

    July 30, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
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