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. Fixer2010

    @tes – I learned math – thanks for asking. If you think that Obama has increased the deficit from billion to trillion in his presidency, you should check your facts. The deficit has increased by about 2 trillion from the trillions Bush left us with. So, my math is fine. And I agree, both sides are freaking crazy! We need a compromise. Spending should be cut, but SS should not be touched. We pay for that, and they have wasted it.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      we need to tax the great athletes (makeing millions and millions of dollars and not working) and also our great politicians, take the ceiling off of social security and make everyone pay their fair share on the ss tax and we wouldn't have to worry about our checks not getting to us in August – i can't live without my ss check – can you???????

      July 29, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • thoreau

      "billion to trillion?" This is a lie.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Polli

      I just did the numbers on the increased number of children in Texas from the open border....a fair , if not lower estimate than the real number at 800,000. This adds 8 billion dollars to the spending without covering all the costs.....thats per year. Let's talk real numbers and where they are coming from. I haven't seen a single politician , nor a single governor, nor a single media outlet that spends enough time to show these numbers.....texas might as well be considered a part of Mexico at a 5% of the US Population of whites and half Mexican Population and a growing illegal Asian Population as well. yet you POliticians say it's a good thing for the economy. It can't be. If we had the money it cost us to put out for these people and the numberds are far higher than I figured, then there would be money to put in to our social security and then some, for othe things. What we need is a stonewall of politicians against fundng any of Obama's plans to help illegals come into our country, so we can pay off our other debts.Apparently Obama doesn't know how to send negotiators to cut down our debt at why should we pay?? Ask the UN why we should have to pay our billls to any other country when no one pays to the US??? Why worry about the creditors??? Say Sorry, cannot do.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      Bush made the problem Obama fell into it.... Now it has to be fixed!!!!
      Republicans found the loop hole to steal from SS with the promiss to pay it back and did not!!!! Congress because of their life time employement seem to think about their pockets not how to help the people. They should not be allowed to stay in office > 5 years
      These problems happened and started long time ago with Republicans and people need to face that fact not relying on rhetoric....

      July 29, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Polli

      Oh, and that 8 billion is per year, doesn't include school lunches nor housing costs....and the figure is far greater becuase of the hispanics 3564950 approx are on our medicaid in Texas.Run those numbers and you will see this open border policy is not sustainable, a bad idea and is bleeding America dry. Add all the others already here and you see that the numbers are trillions we are leaking here just because they say they can come here if they want...but we don't deserve the SS we have been paying into? at 781 billion per year?? and it only pays out at 106 billion??????? I don't think this is exactly correct but someone else show the numbers.....somewhere there is a leak here non-americans should not get a penny, hiopsitals should not pay and we shouldn't have any organization which supports the illegals a trillion dollar per year cost saving at least....probably2-3 trillion. If you think it is bad now, what are we going to do when there are so many our whole government gors bankrupt??? In every city and state because of the illegals??? Texas is close since more than half of the population is almost Hispanic. The Numbers don't work and these people should be turned oveer to their EMbassies and the embassies instructed to remove themat their cost, and return to our soil should get a bullet.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Polli

      I vote no money for any illegals costs. Does anyone join me?

      July 29, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Polli

      Actually I vote no money for any Immigrant costs, especially illegals, and we should eliminate most of the immigrant numbers that come into the US. Now Reiad was trying to get the DreamAct passed and have you noticed how we have not heard a word about this? Don't you know he';s got it buried in there and this is why Obama want's Reid's deal when in actuality we should IMPEACH BOTH REID AND OBAMA FOR SUPPORTING THE ILLEGAL TAKE OVER OF OUR COUNTRY???? FOR NOT LIVING UP TO THEIR OATHS TO PRESEVE AND PROTECT AND PROVIDE FOR AMERICANS??? OBAMA IS INCOMPETENT IN THOUGHT AND DEED. but WATCH OUT FOR rEID WHO SEEMS TO HAVE THE MEDIA ON HIS SIDE. ALbeit without a thought to the cost to Americans who support them.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. steve

    Like they say, when Reagan was president their was Bob Hope and Johnny Cash, and we have Obama and we have no hope and no cash –

    July 29, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      Reagan was the real joke – funny how everyone blindly follows his failed voodoo economics.

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

      True it's your personal comment about Reagan but then again who did we have besides him? No one just like today. These guys act like a bunch of crazy hens with no end in sight. At least Reagan had the wheels turning. Maybe not your way but they turned.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      @ Steve Reagan is one of the reasons why we are here!!!! He later apologized for his poor management look at the history of the US dept...

      July 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Conservative but not crazy

    The Tea Party agenda is destroying our country and our party. At first I thought it was well-meaning ignorance, but now I think this was their plan all along. The debt ceiling has gone from an unpleasant vote to a plot from hell. Getting rid of Obama seems to be the goal and the country be damned. The Republicans created this mess when instead of fighting back against the nuts they tried to join and control them. Both parties should join forces and defeat the Tea Party House members to save the country.

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

      @Conservative. I agree that the Tea party approach and hardline is a little much. However, the Democrats are doing the same with the deficit. They are BOTH crazy.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Fixer2010

      Well said. I agree with you.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • AverageJim

      Democrats aren't holding the debt ceiling hostage; Republicans are. Democrats aren't going against the will of the people, by demanding cuts to programs which impact the middle class and poor without tax increases on the wealthy to share the pain; Republicans are. And as much as Republicans try to act like they are the fiscally wise ones here, most of the national debt was run up under Republican presidents (the previous 5 Republican presidents all increased debt to GDP ratio, whereas the previous 5 Democratic presidents all lowered it).

      July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • concerned

      Well Said. Hatred for anything Obama says or does is what moves them. I am sure that if Obama came out today and said he supported cut cap and balance, they would find more ways to obstruct a compromise

      July 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Candicemarie

      With Boehners three plans that he put out there all three were cut, cap, and balance. Slight changes to each, but basically the same.

      July 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bubba

    It is time for Value Added Tax!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That has worked so well in Europe. I believe Greece's current VAT is around 20%.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      the problem with greece is that they also spend what they don't have. They just voted to lower their retirement age by 2 years.

      Germany just raised their retirement age by 3 years... and is bailing them out (near 1 trillion dollars) for the SECOND time. Thank god I'm not paying german taxes..

      July 29, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That was my point Nick. People just through things out because they believe it solves the problem or doesn't impact them directly. This is complex and the people that are suppose to figure this out are just following the lead of the varies interest groups... because that's who votes for them. Said thing is that most of the people fall for this crap as well.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      I agree!!!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. nick

    YES. Bush raised the debt limit... by 2.4 trillion dollars.
    However, Obama has also raised the debt limit... by 6.1 trillion dollars.

    So, essentially, Obama TRIPLED the debt incurred by bush in HALF the time. (cough, cough, remember that 4 trillion bail out to the corporate America that liberals hate so much?)

    Sometimes, raising the debt limit is done in order to prevent market fall outs, boost consumer confidence, raise corporate confidence for job growth, etc.. It's not always a bad thing.

    I'm just stating the facts. BUT Raising the debt ceiling is not always a bad thing as long as your economy is liable to pay back. The US grew by less than 1% so far this year, which means we are still in the slump. There has been no recovery. Just more money spent.

    It's time we learn some fiscal responsibility. You can't spend what you don't have.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Unfortunately you can spend what you don't have, as we've proven to the tune of $14+ Trillion. What you can't do however is pay what you owe when you don't have it.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Gee, while citing 2008 you've conveniently forgotten ot mention the $2 trillion in purchasing power that vanished from the US economy literally overnight. Remember 2008, do you? Obviously you remember only the parts that fit your delusion!

      July 29, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • AverageJim

      The bank bailout, TARP, was passed under Bush not under Obama. And half the stimulus was passed under Bush, despite all Republican complaints to the contrary. Obama did pass the Auto bailout, but that was mostly paid back and extremely successful in saving U.S. jobs.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      I just don't understand why you keep standing up for obama?

      6.1 trillion... I would have rather he gave everybody in america 40,000 dollars. I could have paid off my mortgage. Instead corporate america grabs their 7-8 figure bonus.

      As for the auto bailout, you clearly don't live in detroit. I'm not saying I'd vote for bush again, either. Just somebody who can relate to the average american and balance a checkbook. Honestly, their all out of touch.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • the problem

      You my friend are as crazy as it gets. You are saying the Obama pretty much doubled the entire debt of the country. Please research before you post. I dont like him as much as you do but we cant lie on him.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      I've done my research.. Call me crazy but I actually like to know where my money is going.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Nick I think you need to go and do a little more research about the amounts that Bush and Obama raised the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling was raised on seven occasions during President George W. Bush's two terms in office, from $5.95 trillion in 2001 to nearly double that, $11.315 trillion, in 2009 – an increase of $5.365 trillion or 90 percent.

      Under Bush the debt ceiling increased:

      by $450 billion to $6.4 trillion in June 2002;
      by $984 billion to $7.384 trillion 11 months later, in May 2003;
      by $800 billion to $8.184 trillion 18 months later, in November 2004;
      by $781 billion to $8.965 trillion 16 months later, in March 2006;
      by $850 billion to $9.815 trillion 18 months later, in September 2007;
      by $800 billion to $10.615 trillion 10 months later, in July 2008;
      and by $700 billion to $11.315 trillion three months later, in October 2008.

      Under Obama the debt ceiling increased:

      by $789 billion to $12.104 trillion in February 2009, Obama's first year in office, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act;
      by $290 billion to $12.394 trillion ten months later, in December 2009;
      and by $1.9 trillion to $14.294 trillion two months later, in February 2010.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Nick in your post you are talking about two different things. You comment that Bush and Obama have raised the debt ceiling by certain amounts, which is incorrect, and then you cite an article that talks about debt held by the public. These are two different things. The article talks about federal debt that is held by the public which is the National Debt. When you raise the debt ceiling it adds to the federal deficit.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      Your so right so the Republicans took it from the social security fund... I guess that was better... Not!!!
      Look up the history of the dept from day 1 Republicans had a large hand...
      Fighting back and forth between the parties made it worse....

      July 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    Salary of retired US Presidents .............$199,700... Salary of House/Senate .......................$174,00​0.... Salary of Speaker of the House ............$223,500...... Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders ...... $193,400 ...Average Salary of Soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN OR IRAQ $38,000 I think we found where the cuts should be made !

    July 29, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Morning Joe

      Forget the Salaries!!!!
      Think about the retirement and Health benefits these people get!

      July 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      amen – If this country is hurting that bad, then start cutting the retirement salary of our politicians – try living on 2500.00 per month

      July 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. conoclast

    What we're watching is nothing less than a core failure of our very system of government: a tiny minority dictating the terms of debate is NOT how a republic is supposed to function. If I were looking for a chink in the armor of American "democracy" to exploit in a coup d'etat attempt I would have found paydirt! Could it be that the radical right is thinking along those lines too? It would certainly explain their utter intransigence in the face of economic disaster. Maybe they indeed have bigger fish to fry than just 'fiscal responsibility', hmm?

    July 29, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    Lets see, Tea party members that talk but do not actually abide themselves. Lee of Utah, $65,000 debt with credit cards, Joe Walsh, of Illinois $117,000 behind in child care. These are men that wants America to toe the line, but they do not. They want Americans to pay more on interest rates if the debt ceiling does not get passed. They want this nation to pay higher interest on money borrowed. Is this not a tax increase, that they are against? Tea Party trashing, destroying this nation. Doing what special interests are paying them to do.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. nick

    what would those fish be?

    July 29, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. M. Reynolds

    Both sides of the aisle have failed us. BOTH sides. Moreover? We helped; be it willingly or by indifference. The climate, then, is on all of us. We refused to see anything but party line or taste anything but one flavor of information. We heard only what we wished. We spoke only what we learned by myopic ingestion. We blame, but both sides merely knew the audience, even as it went on to satisfy personal gain. We did this. We encouraged it, part and parcel, in one form or another.

    The only question, then, is this: Will we take responsibility to fix it?

    July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Finally a sane person. This is what we all should be saying versus continuing to feed the beast and determine which party has the upper hand.

      July 29, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      agreed. the only person I see compromising (used extremely loosely in this case) is boehner. tea party are all or nothing, and the senate hasn't passed anything. they just know what they won't pass.

      but here is a question:
      what happens if this passes the senate? is obama really going to veto it? what other options are there..default?

      July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Wrong. The 'failure' is squarely on the part of the tea party "Hitler Jungend" for their reckless intransigence. Their stated aim is to reduce the size of government, which is laudible; what is NOT laudible is their wanting to reduce governmnent by destroying it!

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

    Why does everyone mention "raising taxes"? If you close tax loopholes, that's NOT raising taxes, that is just making people pay what they should pay!! The middle class doesn't get loopholes, why should we have to pay so much when so many big businesses and the rich pay zero taxes?? Or even get money back because of loopholes - that's really thievery, plain and simple.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. pirrie

    As this is a forum, I'd like to pose a question with the hope that someone from the left and someone from the right will respond reasonably and intelligently.
    Here's the question. If someone on ANY of these forums states that a balanced budget is the way to go "because I balance my own budget", doesn't that person have to be able to claim that they:

    July 29, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. Old Soldier

    The Republicans and Tea Party Conservatives are trying to use a contrived budget crisis (there would be no crisis if the Bush Era tax cuts were repealed and taxes raised on the rich and corporation's loopholes were closed) to first cut and then eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – programs which the GOP opposed from the beginning and repeatedly tried to repeal and challenged in the Federal Courts. Now they are trying to eliminate those by way of budget cuts. Well, they are not fooling me. Cutting, them phasing out Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would caus a humanitarian catastrophe. We can not afford to let that happen.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • SeniorMomentNY

      You are absolutely right Old Soldier!! The Republicans and Tea Party (fanatics) members are out to create a world where the richest 5% of the country defecates on the rest of us....and where there are NO social systems to ensure the quality of life for our neediest, the elderly and the otherwise helpless. Their platform is built solidly on intolerance, arrogance, and a superiority complex that makes my stomach turn, and a transparent "at any cost" committment to gut existing programs that protect our environment and civil liberties, while spending every waking moment creating, maintaining or expanding CORPORATE TAX BREAKS/CORPORATE WELFARE and TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICHEST OF THE RICH - all on the backs of the rest of us....that 95% majority. Hmmmm....does the phrase "let them eat cake" ring a bell?.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. terri

    In the video linked to this article is a photo of man in a suit and tie facing off against a muscular woman newscaster in sleeveless T-shirt who looks like she is ready to start a boxing match. What gives? I don't want my news given by someone who looks like she is either from the hood or on vacation.

    July 29, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. orlando

    OK!!! for this situation to get any better I say raise the taxes on the rich...and lets cut back on paychecks from all those wealthy politicians they obviously dont care any thing about us.. the middle class.. the class that has to struggle in and out each day and each week!!! Let them get a paycheck as we do... very minimal and lets see what they will do then!!! Enough is enough!!!! Their are people right now that are so scared to lose their social security after all that is all they have tio survive...and they deserve it after all the hard work and money taken out of their paycheck!! And then we see these "CLOWNS" trying to bounce the ball back and forth like this was a circus!!! Raise all taxees to the rich!!!!! Cut paychecks to all the politicians and maybe we will be on the right path!!!! After all the rich CAN afford tax raises THEY got the MONEY!!! Not the poor and middle class we don't have anything left at all we struggle to survive we struggle to put food in our table we struggle to pay the mortgage and we struggle when our other half losses his or her job and now we got to live in a 1 income family!!!!!!! OPEN YOUR EYES!!!! AMERICANS SPEAK UP!!!!!!!!!!

    July 29, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
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