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. vkmo

    Boehner is dangerously irresponsible. He has elements of Hoover, Weiner, Herr Fuhrer (they all have "er" at the end of their names).

    July 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • nick

      if this is the only argument that democrats have to not pass his bill in the senate, we are going to be at this for a while..

      July 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      It is the -er conspiracy. How did you figure that out. Now all of the governments will collapse. Weiner and Herr Fuhrer (Hitler) were both socialist.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ian

      you're statement has no basis. It makes Obama equally irresponsible, but we elected him in office so we must work with what we have. At least the republicans aren't trying to turn us into a socialist state.

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

      "We must work with what we have"
      Really? Just keep following? Wow.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • rbrb

      Many people still seem to be fantasizing that they live in a world where we will somehow magically avoid a downgrade and all the economic pain that will come with it.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ian

      Unless we can impeach the president tomorrow, work with what we have means we come to an agreement, knowing we have certain criteria that will need to be met. I am all about smaller government and less taxes. I am 100% republican, but I am also a realist and know that being completely ideological wll get you nowhere

      July 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • vkmo

      The US Debt Ceiling Raises Of The Past 30 Years:
      Reagan -18 times – 199% increase H.W Bush -9 times – 48% increase
      Clinton -4 times -44% increase Dubya Bush -7 times – 90% increase
      Obama -3 times – 26% increase

      July 30, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. scott

    "Mommy the nasty republicans are not giving me what I want which is a blank check" Crybaby-in-chief. Oh that is right Obama did not raise the debt ceiling when he was in congress.
    If you are keeping score that is 2 republican plans; 1/2 dem plan, 0 Obama plans.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      You are confused as to the presidents role in this. Don't blame him for this mess. It people like you with limited grade school education say things like this.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Totido

      We'll see who's crying when your 401K and stocks are worthess. You don't have a clue.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      No worries here, my 40lK is protected by Stop loses. Further, heavy investiments in gold and the Canadian Dollar is at play. Market condition's will fluctuate but remember ones losses will be somebody's gain.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • eyesofnewt

      The National Debt and the Debt Ceiling LImit are 2 separate acts. You do not need a plan to raise the debt ceiling. The largest single contributor to the current debt is Bush Tax Cuts to the wealthy. Besides, since when does America negotiate with hostage takers? Just because the call themsleves "patriots" doesn't mean they are.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ian

      First of all, if he knows the President's past voting history, he probably does have an education since he follows politics. 2nd, Obama is all talk and Scott's statement reiterates that. Just because you disagree with his point doesn't mean bashing the person will make your point any stronger. Try making an argument that has some type of basis in it. That will go a lot further.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Well said eyesofnewt, well said.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      you could have 100 crappy plans...big deal
      since all spending plans are to come from congress why should Obama be presenting a plan?

      July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Sorry Ian, call a spade a spade, an imbicile will be a imbicile. Trolling and sounding off with any sound bases on a blog for such a serious matter deserves a "ribbing" of some sort.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC7

      You are a complete moron. The debt ceiling was raised 17 times under Reagan and 7 times under Bush. Nobody fought them on it. We are clearly in this mess because of Bush. And Hitler was a fascist who hated socialists and communists you genius.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Soldier

      No. The writing is on the wall for the Democratic Party to come roaring back in November 2012. Someone wrote upthread that the Tea Party and the "Republicans had a plan but Obama and the Democrats do not. Close, but no see-gar! Obama and the Democrats havehad a plan (raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, for wealthy Corporations, and close the tax loopholes for both. That is a plan. Just not a plan that the Tea Party (Libertarian Pseudo-Republicans) and the Republicans like. But not to worry: There are a lot more senior citizens, poor people, and minorities our there, than there are rich folks and wanna-be rich folks. So if the Tea Party and the Republicans get their way, they will be voted out and the next Congress will be so strongly Democratic that what they will repeal whatever the Tea Party/Republicans have forced on us, restore whatever has been cut, and raise taxes on the wealthy to properly fund Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and whatever they had cut back to the pre-Tea Party revolt levels.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Myra Longate

    Factor in the defence deficit please. Obama added that to the figures in a gesture of transparency. Bush did not release those numbers, or figure those into the budget. What we are paying for RIGHT NOW are the figures that Bush never released, but Obama did, making the fugures look outstandingly high, and as a result, people think it's his fault.
    Jay Horn, all you do is throw in snide comments about Obama, but you never add any solutions. We get it; you HATE Obama. If the situations were reversed, and John McCain were in office, and he had the same exact thing going on, would you still say the same thing? I would be interested to know what you think we should do. And leave any party affiliation out of it.
    What should Congress do, Jay Horn? If there were no republicans or democrats, what would the best course of action be?

    July 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ranchotim

      Niether Boehners nor Reids bill address the problem of a government spending more than it takes in. Until then the problem will persist and continual debate on how much to raise the debt ceiling.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dreamer96

    The Boehner and theTea party are insane, they added a balanced budget amendment, and think the states while pass it by Christmas, it takes years to do this....

    Pass a bill that says 5 or 10 percent of tax revenue goes to pay principle on debt, not interest, maybe only foregein debt. Right now Foregein ownership is 4.5 trillion, Domestic ownership is 9.8 trillion...

    July 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      No, BBA just says that congress must pass the BBA to the states before a second rise of debt ceiling. The states do not have to ratify it by Christmas.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BeAngieP

    The GOP in the house is the only body to present and vote on a plan that would keep the country out of default and prevent our credit rating from being down graded. Why won't the senate at least vote on Cut, Cap and Balance?. It baffles me that the GOP is being blamed for this when the democrats have not even presented a bill to be brought to the floor of either house or senate. What a quagmire!

    July 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Myra Longate

    Why in the hell do we have to declare any party while voting in primaries, anyway? Why can't we just go and vote whoever our conscience dictates?
    There are always going to be people who vote for their party blindly...

    July 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mavsfan93

    People stop worrying. They will come up with something by august 2nd. This is like wut happened with the gov shutdown, except this woud be the gov. meltdown. Defaulting is still unthinkable and u know it. After the bill passes we as american people need to have confidence in it and our nation and start going out and buying things. Businesses will start to hire faster and people will buy more homes. Its just a matter of time...

    July 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Children now how to solve problems better than these guy's. A bunch of selfish losers

    July 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      The president is the only Adult in this mess. God please guide him.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Sorry I meant Know.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Concerned

    Actually, the Senate's plan may be a template for the future... Kick the can down the road til the next election. Then whoever wins next year, as part of their inaugural, include a pre-filled out debt ceiling increase to cover their new 4 year term? That's an idea!
    Just frustrated of course

    July 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chumlee

      Its more like kicking the goat across the street but in the process the goat gets killed by a bus.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. oobie

    With 9% unemployment, It's irresponsible to promise cuts in public spending without a plan for how to increase spending in the private sector. Without those provisions, more wealth will continue to be sucked out of the US and into the banks of emerging nations. Instead of our wealth being used as margin for lending by US banks for US projects it will go to being margin in foreign banks for loans for foreign projects.

    If you are out of work or worried about your job, I suggest you pack your bags now because your leaders are getting ready to boot you out of the country. The best jobs get filled first, so brush up on your Portugese, Korean and Mandarin.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susan

    Really??? I can't believe we are down to the wire and they can't agree on anything. I wonder if they will get a paycheck if the government shuts down??

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

      Yes, and everybody will get free pizza too !

      July 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • RooInABQ

      It actually doesn't matter whether the congress gets paychecks during a shutdown. They aren't wealthy as a result of their salaries; drop in the bucket for them.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOB


    July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • CalmDog

      Agreed. But try to balance it by telling the bank you're not sending anymore mortgage payments. Tell the car dealer that you're not sending any more money because you've decided you shouldn't have spent it.
      Now picture your boss telling you he's going to stop paying you because he needs to balance the books.

      July 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CalmDog

    No one is saying anything we haven't heard before. Again and again and again and...... I really don't care what any of them have to say any more. I want them to just shut up and f***ing fix it. Does anyone remember when we all used to be just Americans? 'Cause that memory is getting dim.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nail

    So there was this video of this couple who was boasting about their efforts to raise $4 billion a year to pay off the national debt. I hate to break it to them, but if all spending were to cease and interest didn't exist, it will take 3,500 years to pay off $14 trillion in debt. Add in all promised future spending and it rises to 19,500 years. Add in interest and its much longer. Add in the inevitable bailout of the derivatives market and it rises to 165,000 + years.

    The sad thing is $4 billion/yr will hardly make a dent when the government is adding debt at $1.4 trillion a year (It would take 350 years worth of their optimal fundraising just to cover 1 year of the government's debts). Is the writing on the wall or what?

    July 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
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