Debt debate: Where things stand
Speaker John Boehner gives the thumbs-up Friday after the House voted 218-210 to approve his debt-ceiling measure.
July 30th, 2011
10:28 PM ET

Debt debate: Where things stand

The federal government has three days left to raise the nation's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said. 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 Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, temporarily stopped legislative consideration of his debt ceiling proposal late Saturday night, reversing an earlier decision to hold a key procedural vote on the measure by 1 a.m. ET Sunday.

Negotiations were still underway at the White House, Reid said. The vote will now be held at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

There are "many elements to be finalized" and still "a distance to go," Reid said. "We should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work."

The announcement comes a few hours after Reid denied claims from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that progress was being made on a debt ceiling deal.

The Republicans "refuse to negotiate in good faith," Reid said. "The process has not been moved forward during this day."

The Democratic-led Senate on Friday blocked the Boehner plan from being considered, voting 59-41 to table the measure.

Under an amended version, it would reduce federal deficits over the next decade by $2.4 trillion while raising the debt ceiling by a similar amount - meeting the GOP's demand that total savings should at least equal any total debt ceiling hike.

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.

In addition, it incorporates a process proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, that would give Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling in two steps while providing Congress the opportunity to vote its disapproval.


House Speaker John Boehner expressed optimism Saturday that an agreement is near, despite the House's rejection of a plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"In spite of our differences, we're dealing with reasonable, responsible people," Boehner said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, also said Saturday afternoon that he had talked to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden "within the last hour" and is "confident and optimistic" that there will be an "agreement within the very near future."

Earlier Saturday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejected Reid's proposed debt ceiling plan in a sharply polarized 173-246 vote. Republicans unanimously opposed the measure while most Democrats backed it. GOP leaders conducted the vote on Reid's bill under rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, thereby ensuring its defeat.

The Republican-controlled House on Friday passed a proposal put forward by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that seeks to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending while requiring that Congress pass a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 218-210 vote was strictly on party lines. The vote had been scheduled to occur Thursday night, but Republican leaders postponed it because they lacked support within their own caucus to get it passed. After the House vote, the measure went to the Senate, where Democrats blocked it from being considered.

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 then 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.

President Obama

Obama has endorsed Reid's plan and threatened a veto of Boehner's plan. The president strongly opposes any bill that doesn't raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election, and he 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.

No face-to-face negotiations are currently scheduled for Saturday.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Harry Reid • John Boehner • Politics
soundoff (370 Responses)

    i liked the trillion dollar coin idea better... i would have totally swiiped the trillion dollar coin and then i could have donald trump work for me...

    July 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • leslie

      the politics in dc is like a bad case of the three stooges(all boobs)-larry, moe and curly/shemp-can't get their f-in acts together!!!!!!!!!!!! maybe we should send them all our bills w/ stiff penalties late charges and interest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • saaaly

      ac360 = gay

      July 31, 2011 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
    • saaaly

      hi i' m andersun cooper. i'm a fudg e pack er

      July 31, 2011 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. s kel

    Why do the Senate Democrats keep blocking everything? No wonder Obama's approval rating is now at 40%.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Doug Adair

    We must overcome the polarization / gridlock in our Federal Government if we are to avert financial disaster. I am deeply troubled by the inability of leaders in the United States to reach a compromise on the US Debt Ceiling. If they lose their way and they don't act soon in the best interests of the people, everyone will pay for this. "Help Us Find Some Common Ground" on YouTube speaks directly to this dilemma. I hope this song provides some inspiration to "put our differences aside and start a new revolution". Perhaps we need to erect huge sound systems outside the US Capitol and the White House and blast "Help Us Find Some Common Ground" over and over and over until the Congress and the President take action to avert the impending financial crisis—the same way that loud music is often used to quell prison riots and end hostage situations (like the one all of us are in right now).

    July 30, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      I think that when things go in "really" bad, it is important to place the blame where it belongs, rather than spreading it around to everyone. This just leads to anger and even less progress. The blame here lies squarely with the Tea Party. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the President.

      Although no party is completely innocent (and as we all know they have perpetuated problems), it seems to me that the President and Bahner had an excellent compromise worked out two weeks ago before it was torpedoed by the TP. You would have seen an immediate improvement in the stock market and all parties would have benefited. It would have made for a more equitable tax structure, less spending, and real change. However, the Tea Party, in its childish insistence upon having things its own way, has brought us to the precipice.

      July 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • A W Messenger

      The Polarization in the Federal Government is being fueled by BARRACK OBAMA. If you want Congress to become more centrist, more united, CHOOSE a President next time who is more centrist, more united. OBAMA is a flaming extreme liberal ... doesn't work well when the office of the president is supposed to be compromising (to both sides) in order to get things done.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. harvey

    they are so involved with themselves that they forget they were sent there to represent the people of the US. not their party politics.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mary McDONOUGH

    Every plan the Reps come up with has to be approved by the tea party. The senate is more worried about them then the budget.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. howard bitterman

    King Solomon and the U.S. Debt Ceiling
    Amazon Kindle

    July 30, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. SC

    Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, you gotta love one another right now. Right now.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO )

    Pretty soon our home mortgage will be turned over to Shanghai Savings and Loan.
    Kids will be taking martial arts in grade school.
    Obama will be overtaken by Ip Man in 2012.
    Pretty soon you'll have to eat your Big Mac with chopstix.
    And this is just the beginning.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Walter Smitty

    And when China comes to strip mine our mountains for coal, the environmental wackos wont be able to do anything about it.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Walter Smitty

    Thank you Obama for making us weak!

    July 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • engineer1

      And thank you GW Bush for $1T in tax cuts we couldn't afford and two wars that were conducted off-budget for many years... And thank the aces on Wall Street and in the banks that created an unsustainable housing bubble that left many in the hole (oh, but not the those in the financial industry), and putting a generation of workers into an overheated construction sector who now have insufficient skills to do much else. Obamba inherited a large part of this mess, as well.

      July 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike morrison

    Why aren't we cutting HUD and section 8 long before even mentioning SSI. HUD has millions of people living for free while lying about who is actually living there. They get free everything and most are capable of working. Leave my grandparents alone! Start drug testing people on HUD and quit telling the property managers months ahead of time when they're coming to do inspections.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana Reynolds

      Most Hud do not live free, they are helping with reduce rent by how much you get pay, The more money you make, the less the Hud will help, the less money they make, the more the Hud will help or Section 8... same things, but they do not live free, it not how it work.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Walter Smitty

    I agree with you Mike

    July 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Walter Smitty

    Hmm why wont the Democrats let us drill for oil here in the US? Its probably promised to China and Russia.

    July 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • engineer1

      In case you haven't noticed it's a bit harder to find here... much smaller reserves than Saudi Arabia or Russia. Being a fungible commodity on the world market, the Chinese demand increases are pushing the price more than anything.

      July 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sagebrush Shorty

    President Obama should just butt out until a final bill is in place. Then he can veto or sign to his hearts content. Keep the Executive and Legislative branches separate. Too much power has been given to recent Presidents, government by executive order is no government at all.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sagebrush Shorty

    Please don't be logical, it confuses the liberals.

    July 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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