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. 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 the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised "because I balance my own budget, and don't spend money I don't have", doesn't that person have to be a person who:
    1. Have never taken out any sort of loan–car, mortgage, anything?
    2. If, perchance, a debt IS owed, and the collector comes to call, says "Sorry, I don't like what I got for the money I borrowed, so I therefore don't owe you anything?"
    I guess I'm just wishing that people wouldn't equate their own financial issues with the vastly more complicated financial issues that a national government faces.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • ckelley

      The thing that a lot of people either don't understand or are choosing to ignore is the fact that the debt ceiling MUST be raised to cover money we've ALREADY spent. When Congress decides on a budget, those bills are taken into account. And up until now, the raising of the debt ceiling has been pretty perfunctory and, in my understanding, decided by a vote that only takes a matter of minutes. So what we have here is a Congress that gave the President and the country permission to spend that money, but are now saying they won't pay the bill unless their demands are met first. Most countries don't even have a debt ceiling. You're right; people should not compare their own personal finances with that of the US Government. Unfortunately, thanks to this debacle, everyone is suddenly an expert on the country's finances, or at least they think they are. (I'm not claiming to be one of those experts, either...this is information I've gleaned from different news sources all over. Take it for what it's worth.)

      July 29, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • pirrie

      Thanks. Anyone else? Can someone please explain to me why a balanced budget amendment would be a good idea? I would sincerely like to know. It seems too simplistic for an entire nation.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jay Horn

    Taxed Enough Already! Obama's spewing his class warfare again.

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

      Can you provide concrete examples, please?
      Or are you just a drive by troll leaving slobbers of Obama hate in your wake?

      July 29, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Nicholas

      Taxes are at their lowest rates in the modern American era. Stop crying about it.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      I assume Horn you must be one of the "Rich", I see your frustration

      July 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ryan

    All elected Senators and House members should have their pay caped at 100000 dollars per year
    next they should all have to pay 30 percent of their health care premium and once out of office they must purchase an individual plan
    third no pension all elected officials should have to contribute to a 401K or IRA style plan
    The elected clowns also need to address the high unemployment issue and businesses off shoring jobs even though they have record profits. Perhaps a solution would be levy a fine against a business for every single job off shored

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

      agreed and congress should only have a 5 year term then out!!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Madame Royale

    See how everyone is arguing here? See how everyone is so deeply divides in their beliefs?
    This is what out government is doing.

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

      We all get that; although I would argue it is the political parties not the government itself, but I expect that is what you meant.

      The question is, what are we going to do about it? A debate with a meeting of the minds would seem the best course of action, but with the anonymity of the internet it usually devolves into a "libertard" vs. "rethuglican" school yard calibre insult tossing. As my father used to say "don't bring me problems, bring me solutions". To that I would add, REAL solutions. My first thought? Abolish anonymity on comment boards.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. TioTio

    California gave the nation Proposition 13. CA should also give the nation its propositions passed in 2010 that mandated:

    1. Primaries be open— it will encourage politicians running for office to be more centrist; and it will marginalize Left and Right wingers such as the Tea Party, which has been holding the debt ceiling debate hostage

    2. Budgets be passed on time or else the politicians and their staffs permanently forfeit their pay for every day the budget is late; don’t forget that after the debt ceiling fiasco is over we still have to get to the overdue task of passing a budget.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Artifex

      I like it.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |

      Excellent idea!!!


      July 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      Make it a bill proposal

      July 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. carly

    Every one of the tea party Republicans must be booted out of Congress for holding our country hostage. These people are nothing more than thugs.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Old Soldier

    The Tea Party Conservatives are not real Republicans. They are Libertarians who somehow managed to nominated and elected as Republicans instead of members of a 3rd party (a creative idea,) hijacked the GOP; and are now trying to hijack the entire country. Imagine the U.S. without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: The increased poverty among the poor and elderly could be at 3rd world levels, and there could be a massive die-of among the poor and the senior citizens. Is this what you want for America? Raise taxes on the rich and on corporations; close tax loopholes. Be sure everyone pays their fair share in taxes, increase them as necessary, and leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • orlando

      I am with you on this 200% sadly our own government is so blinded that they cant see or perhaps they dont CARE AT ALL!!! is this really AMERICA LAND OF THE FREE???? I think not!!

      July 29, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • NY_Republican

      I agree with you completely ! The Republican party has been hijacked and corrupted beyond recognition. I am embarrassed and ashamed by how they've been acting for the past 10 years or so. It's time I changed by party affiliation to the party that CARES about people...the Democratic Party. The Republicans/Tea Partiers ONLY CARE ABOUT KEEPING THE RICH RICH, AND DOING WHATEVER THEY CAN TO ENSURE THEY GET EVEN MORE RICH..WHETHER A CORPORATION OR AN INDIVIDUAL (KOCH BROTHERS COME TO MIND HERE...) It's SICK!

      The Bush tax cuts must be left to expire – the rich SHOULD pay more...their fair share. Don't even get me started about corporate welfare that our government dishes out!!

      I am disheartened by all the hatred and LIES being spewn by Republicans and Tea Party people. There is a complete disconnect from reality! Raising the debt ceiling has NOTHING TO DO WITH SPENDING MORE!! It has to do with PAYING BACK WHAT WE'VE ALREADY SPENT – and no thanks to Bush and all those needless wars he go us into, and his tax breaks for Corps. and the richest people in the US, there's a whole lot we owe!!


      July 29, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Have you ever been to a third world country?

      Walking down the streets of section 8 housing in nyc would be heaven.

      ..I think this is a bit of a stretch.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. MrCofTX

    It is very important thta we all remembr... when we lose our retirement savings, have no job, eliminate teacher jobs, and our economy goe sto hell next week. We will still have friday night football and NFL football. the i mportnat things in life!

    July 29, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • beans65


      July 29, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Old Soldier

    You can reason with and work with real Republicans. The Libertarians have always been extremists with whom it is impossible to work.

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

      I can accept that assertion. However, will there be any real republicans left? I watch the RINO tea party (my opinion; I agree that the TP seems to be thinly veiled Libertarianism) grind up the Eisenhower republicans and eat them for breakfast.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. hiawa23

    While we are at it stickin it to education, elderly, middle, lower class, yet giving breaks to those who least need it, draw down those wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, & any other occupation we are involved with thoughout the world. If we can't afford our teachers, firemen, policemen, pell grants for students, then we certainly can't afford to police the world anymore. Cut the money we send to foreign countries as if we are tightening our belt, then we need to keep every dime here in the states.

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

    A President is only as good as Congress will let him be.
    When the hell will you people figure that out?
    As our Nation's population grows, so too will the number of representatives, and so will the quagmire that is Congress.
    Bunch of self-serving whining brats who only think of themselves and not the people they are supposed to "represent".

    July 29, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Artifex

      Can't argue that. So, what do we do about it? Realistically?

      July 29, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nancy Edwards

    Why doesn't Obama write his plan and submit it? I do not believe the Boehner Plan should be any less than CAP, CUT, and BALANCE with a required Balanced Budget Amendment immediately. Yes, the Federal Government's financial issues are way more complicated than a personal families, but YOU JUST DON'T SPEND MORE THAN YOU BRING IN AND YOU DON'T RAISE TAXES TO BE ABLE TO SPEND MORE, AND YOU DON'T THREATEN SENIOR CITIZENS WITH NOT PAYING SOCIAL SECURITY. Try cutting out programs that aren't working or have gotten way bigger than they need to be. Start cutting government salaries, limit terms. Senate and Representative jobs are not full time forever employment. This used to be a volunteer your services kind of job, not it's a gravy train because we have allowed them to vote to give themselves raises, perpetual pay even after leaving office, and being EXEMPT from OBAMACARE. We need to wake up and start paying attention and make changes.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Artifex

      Nancy, you make many good points, but the proper time for that is during the budget process when spending is defined. Don't fall for the ploy that raising the debt limit has anything to do with spending – that is misguided political theater. You don't bring a gun to church because you confused hunting with worship; don't confuse the budgeting process with the honoring of financial obligations previously committed to 10, 6, 2 years ago. I think everyone agrees spending needs to be brought under control, no doubt about that. But it is similarly ridiculous to believe you can cut your way to prosperity. Never works, unless you are preparing to sell out. My thought is we need to address those willing to sell us out with these unilateral approaches.

      July 29, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • SeniorMomentNY

      Nancy, it is not the President's (or ANY President's) responsibility to "write a plan and submit it." You should take some time and study civics. Raising the debt ceiling has NEVER been an issue throughout US history. The Republicans and TP's have twisted this otherwise routine procedure and leveraged it as a way to hold the entire country hostage. Their behavior is repugnant and irresponsible. I agree that government spending needs to be cut back and fraud needs to be eliminated – however – raising the debt ceiling HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FUTURE SPENDING! IT HAS TO DO WITH PAYING BACK THE MONEY WE'VE ALREADY SPENT, AS MUCH AS 10 YEARS AGO! And you can thank Bush and his administration with wracking up one hell of a bill for their wars and their tax breaks for the rich! That's what got us into the entire economic depression!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stephen Witte

    ANY of the proposed plans would be FAR better than NO plan. But, thanks a lot to all you congressmen who have more interest in your own egos then you have in keeping us Americans out of a full blown new recession, or worse! We are suffering permanent damage from this! Every economist from every university across the country has already stated "Don't play chicken with the dept ceiling.". But, here we are, with NO plan in sight!

    July 29, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. proudwelca

    I do hope that the first checks not sent out will be the paychecks for Congress and the President. I hope we are going to see a greater contribution to medical costs and pension from these folks. Probably we should cut their pension and medical coverage, since they are wealthy enough to pay their own way. Of course, this will never happen. But yet, here in Wisconsin, it is perfectly OK to ask state employees and teachers to do this. Because they make, $25,000-$65,000. And can so afford it. Starting out teachers, can you really afford this? Well, take it up with your union. Oh you can't do that. Take it up with your HR. Now who is that in the school where you work? Or is that all those bosses in Madison that you have. Are they your HR? I think I just went off on a tangent.

    July 29, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gaston

    A part of a letter I wrote to Boehner today:
    Politics is finally changing in the right direction.. "The people first"...
    I think because people are in congress for life they forget their purpose in the office and begin to adopt the importance of the pocket not the people...
    I do not know if you ever lived in hard times but if you did you have seemed to forgotten and if you did not then I understand why you rather save the big businessman’s money in the name of jobs instead of helping the people sustain life once they have to even get a job...
    The best thing that needs to be done on your part is to think of the people....
    There are 2 people who I admire.... John Howard Griffin and Morgan Spurlock..... They saw what it was like before they made their opinion of others...
    I know you would not do this and I would not ask but I have lived in both situations one of which I can not take a pill to change....
    Now I am going to college to be a NP and have been a RN for 14 years... My reasons for not supporting your big business to bad little man idea is because of my experience....
    Like you in this situation..It is a shame that the only way people were put on Medicare for severe renal disease is because it started with a congressmen’s family member... "NOT BECAUSE IT WAS NEEDED FOR ALL"

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