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. beans65

    See for evey rational person on here there is that person who instead of finding truth for his or her self decides to sit on the couch and watch a news network for their info (probaboly fox). a quick nugget of wisdom for all...the true answer to most situations is found in the middle. we can all speculate as to what was said behind close doors between Dems and Repubs but none of us know, so i like to only take what i know as fact to form my opinion. I love how we ignore the past ten years and somehow find a way to blame Obama for all the mess...stop being a Repub or Dem long enough to recognize that Bush really F'd up things pretty good. People keep saying that Dems are the big spenders but my gosh can we be honest for one second and realize what got us here so we dont repeat it. Republicans are funny (case in point) banks screw up the financial markets and we bail them out but, we should not regulate them because that would hurt the economy or what about hey dont regulate that company you are gonna mess with job growth...oh oh oh the economy is collapsing why isnt the government creating jobs! so when things are good lets leave them alone and when they are bad its the governments fault there are no learn from the past and dont repeat.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • beans65

      oh and can we please start holding these Corps accountable...i dont know about you but it seems like these dudes are getting off scott free with a lot of money that frankly you and I financed.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      Ironic that you blame everything on Bush but Obama bailed them out... I am confused.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris knowles

      Here is an idea. If Congress does not compromise and America defauts on it's debts, then the first of the debts not paid should be the pay checks of ALL THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

      July 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • BADGUY

      As much as I hate it, Obama had no choice but bailout the Banks. You want Depression?....I mean down and out poverty?...just guess what this country would be like if he hadn't!

      July 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Katherine, you are confused because you failed to understand. Your mind has been condition not to comprehend. I say this with no malice for you too are a victim of brainwashing.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phranque

      beans65 - Why are we blaming Bush? The debt was 9 Tril when Obama took over, it is now over 14 Tril...was Bush behind the scenes spending money we didn't know about. Let's be realistic and stop pointing fingers - government tries to address the symptoms rather than the root cause of a problem. I remember Obama saying in his campaign speeches that he was going to put America back to work, fine business who sent jobs oversees, reduce the national debt, etc, etc. We all know that whether it is Obama or ishcabibble, all politicians bow to the power of Corporations and banks. President Jackson was against a national Bank - it would corrupt the politicians (gee, isn't that the case?). So with all the campaigning and frankly, BS, that the candidates lie about, let's see what happened in case you forgot...the debt went from 9 T to 14 T, unemployment went from 4% – 9.5%, corporations went under, the Government bailed them out, banks no longer gave out mortgages, people lost their homes, jobs, and trust. Jobs still go over seas, business was not fined, unemployment is still rising, they stole my social security money, and oh yea, they give you this crap that foreclosures are slowing down, yes they are, that is the process is. There are so many homes on the cutting block, that the lawyers can't keep up with them, that is why foreclosures are slowing. This doesn't mean there are fewer forclosures, but rather there are so many, it takes longer to get through them (almost 3 yrs). Government is TOO big and they can't handle the complexity. The easy way out is to rasie the credit limit on your card so you can go further in debt. I pay into my Social Security, that is MY money so I expect it to be there when I retire. If not, can I sue the Government for negligence and misappropriation of funds?

      July 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Get it through your thick skull. Bush,s war budget was not accounted for within the national debt. The roller coaster was going downhill pretty fast when Bush and cronies jumped off.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Phranque I am afraid that your information is incorrect. People are blaming Bush because when he was in office the he raised the debt ceiling 7 times going from 6.4 trillion to 11.3 trillion. 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.

      The debt ceiling has been raised on three occasions under President Barack Obama. The debt ceiling was $11.315 trillion when the Democrat was sworn into office in January 2009 and increased by nearly $3 trillion or 26 percent by summer 2011, to $14.294 trillion.

      July 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Concerned

    Tax the rich? Yeah like that's going to reduce the debt from 14 trillion to nothing. Get a grip people, the Republican's fight is to cut spending & reform. Anyone read Sen Cantor's "Back in Black"? If not, can anyone answer this question... How many government programs are measured to see if they a) met/exceeded their goals, b) are meeting goals, c) are underfunded/overfunded, d) wasteful. So even without measurements in place, just keep throwing money into programs. I don't care which side of gov't created the programs - measure them. Force new programs to create measurements also.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • beans65

      sounds good to me...ok so while you cutt those programs ill start calling major corporations and collecting more taxes, then when we have enough money we will lower the deficit...sound like a plan?

      July 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • VBobier

      Wrong, Back in Black comes from Senator Tom Coburn, A Republican, Get Your facts straight before posting, Google It next time, I did.

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

      Obvious typo (don't even have a senator named Cantor I think), sorry. What facts did I quote? I only asked questions & suggested we measure what we pay for.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • cecilia

      having worked for non profits most of my life – ie domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter. I can tell you we had to meet many standards, prove the program is successful and then ask for money for the next year. we may or may not get the money or we may get less, seldom more. so yes, you money is being well spent – thanks

      July 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • cecilia

      not to stay on you but here is a thought – how about performance reviews for the government – they set their goals, they goals get approved and if they do not meet those goals – they are out – also they are given tests before allowing them to run for office – basic, like government, history and math – do pass – don't get to run

      July 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BADGUY

      We may need much more than cuts in Medicare and Social Security:
      1. Return tax rates to the pre-Reagan era.
      2. Cut 50% of the Domestic and 90% of the Foreign military bases.
      3. Accelerate troop departures from battle areas.
      4. Cut weapons contracts.
      5. Cancel all "Free Trade" agreements and implement "Fair Trade"
      6. Implement a government Works program. Hire ALL of the unemployed.
      7. Increase the minimum wage to 15$/hour+medical+retirement.
      8. Nationalize companies that cannot handle the minimum wage.
      9. Pursue and prosecute ALL Income tax cheats and deadbeats.
      0. Create a "property tax" on ALL wealth, not only real estate.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Soldier

      Nope. The Tea Party's goal is to use repeal Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Student Loans, Federal Pensions and other programs they do not like by using the novel method of cutting tax revenues until those programs become arguably too expensive. And they do not care who they hurt in the process. How cruel.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lotto Cheatah

    The U.S. still has about 8.1 metric tonnes of gold in fort knox. With the price over $1,600/oz it seems like a good time to take some of that off the table.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • DU_ME

      Yes I plan on going in there with Goldfinger and helping myself!!!!!

      July 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • VBobier

      I think Gold's $1614.00 or so per ounce, at least it was yesterday.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Braden

    I liked what Buffett said. If we don't hold to 3% GDP limit. All of the sitting congress will not be able to be re-elected. That is when you put some teeth in the law. I have always said. Laws are made for lawyers and the majority of congress are lawyers who can't make living anyother way.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LNT

    Don't these guys (GOP) understand , We as America can't worry about tomrrow we have become a nation that must live day by day thanks to our last President and Wall Street

    July 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay Horn

    Tax and Spend this country into oblivion that is Obama's agenda.

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

      The cons have been doing an aweful lot of spending themselves in the last 10 years

      July 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MidWay

      "Tax and spend" makes a lot more sense than "borrow and spend" which is what republicans have done for the last 4 decades. Taxing the rich and creating govt jobs is better than allowing the rich to off-shore all jobs and invest their tax breaks abroad.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Scott

    "No way to run the greatest country on Earth"? Please. Being the most gluttonous and consuming country does not make you the greatest. Your credit rating is about to be the same as Kuwait....congrats USA. I hope you tea party freaks are happy with your elected representatives as they hurdle you into financial oblivion. I wish for one moment you could look at this through the eyes of the rest of the world and see how ridiculous it makes you appear.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Amen brother ! Amen

      July 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |

    The top 400 have more wealth than the bottom 50%. The Bush tax cuts HAVE TO GO. We should also push to repeal the income tax rates put through by Reagan. NO CUTS IN MEDICARE OR SOCIAL SECURITY until that happens!

    July 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Soldier


      July 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. raenc

    I’m a teacher and the present times are exciting, (defined as scary as a day in Hades) but it is a real life demonstration on how our current government is broke. What really drives me to distraction is the well educated, financial stable (rich) members of the House and Congress cannot have a sane and mutually respectful conversation. I am a special education teacher and I am very proud of my students. For all their special needs they understand how to work together to reach a finished product. They understand mutual respect and the need to compromise. They understand that harassment and bulling others is just plain wrong. Maybe I should take my students to Washington to teach the members of the hill how to think and work together?

    July 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddy

      It wouldn't work. The difference is your students are willing to learn and work together. Politicians are too busy trying to undermine each other so they can gain more power. As long as DC has a power hunger, the American people will lose.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MucMuc

    The Senate does not have a plan and they never had a plan. If they have a plan, why don't the vote on it? There plan is just a bunch of old washed out rhetoric and nothing concrete. That is what Obama wants, give him the money in exchange for rhetoric. Just like ObamaCare, pass our plan and we will figure out what is in it later.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • strangetea

      You don't really watch any of this stuff on TV, do you ?

      July 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BADGUY

    People are gonna have to decide in 2012. Do they wanna continue tax breaks for the Rich or watch the poor population of this country increase? The battle lines are now CLEARLY drawn. DECIDE!

    July 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Most of these so called rich people are foreigners. They are making money of the American's back. Don't these GOP realize that. Find me a cooperation that is 100% American.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. patcee

    Boehner is finding out he is not as powerful as he thought. Must be a drag to be him right now.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      He weeping like a little girl !

      July 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MBW

    Enough is enough. The time has come to pass the Senate compromise debt reduction and increase in debt limit plan. The Republicans are shackeled by the Tea Party who would rather see the economy tank than compromise. If there is no compromise by August 2, then its the Republican Party's fault. Regardless of the outcome, its time to recall the Tea
    Party. Our government cannot operate with this continued obstruction from a group of extremists.

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


      July 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay Horn

    How can anybody compare Obama to Reagan? Obama is more liko Mao and Lenin.

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

      I disagree, He is a democratic president with democratic principles. The whole world loves this guy, whereas, people spit and throw shoes at the GOP.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Soldier

      Not really. Our President is a career community organizer; not a career politician. There si a difference beween the two. A community organizer is a facilitator, not a leader. A skilled community organizer presents options, then steps back and lets the chosen leaders of the community sort things out themselves, no matter how messy the process is. He will talk about change, even promise change, but empowers the community's chosen leaders to make the changes they want for their community. A skilled career politician, on the other hand, is anything but a community organizer. He is a leader with a platform, an agenda, which he is pledged to make a lived reality any way possible. He does not facilitate. He leads. Our president is a community organizer (and a very good one) who is trying to be a facilitator at a time when our country really needs a skilled career politician who is a decisive leader and is willing and able to stand up and lead!.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TTBO

    Throw them all out of office. They were elected to do a job and neither side is doing it. Every elected official should be required to read the Adams biography and remember that elected service is just that – not a career with the richest retirement plan in the country.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      I agree, but save Obama. He is the only sane person in the lot.

      July 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
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