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)
  1. jack

    They should all be fired!

    July 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      And then hanged!

      July 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • retired teacher

      Remember this when it comes time to vote's to term limits, and cleaning house!

      July 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      All Tea Party seniors should have their checks withheld. It's only fair.;

      July 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. a disgrace

    when the debt bill is finally signed then its back to the real problem america has been without a president for three years and the country is in a depression that is now out of control...

    July 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      Childish partisan comment. Please grow up.

      July 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Winston5

    Tea Party = albatross. (u made this bed, RNC, now sleep in it!)

    July 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Moe NY

    I will tell you where things stand....keep it up republicans/ do not, trust me, want to face the rath of the MAJORITY of the American people. Won't be pretty!

    July 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael rouppas

      I feel the same way. washington does not care about people. they have allowed corporations to go to other countries. NO REVENUE from taxes bush screwed up medicaid and cut taxes then the democrats gain power of the house and sat on thier hands for two years and now the republicans hold us hostage and thier only concern is to dictate to the rich and inroduce policies that will make the economy worst. How many times can we vote our way from bad to worse

      July 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. In Debt

    In Debt? You can trust in Owe-Bama !

    July 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lushrimfire

    Wake up America ! the democratic party and Obama are not going to approve any legislation that does not help Obama's re-election chances !

    July 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • engineer1

      true for the other side of the aisle, as well

      July 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • onlysomeguy

      You both are (sort of) right. It's the whining people they have buzzing in their ears each and every day for this and that that they don't need that has both parties doing some of the most irresponsible and ridiculous things half of the time.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shamika burrell

    America I just want to live in the us I am a citizen an I just want to start my own business. I want to start a purse, jelwery, and perfume store... Please do some thing useful to help my future!
    Sincerly, help the world to be a better place.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    You had a President for the last three years. The Problem Is a lot of you just don't respect him because of his skin color. If you ever get by that and that realize the Republican has say no to everything he try to do. Why are uou not mad at the Republican they are the One that run on getting JOBS for American People so they can go back to work. Till this day the only thing the Republican have done since getting control of the house was give the BIG BUSINESS and the RICH more tax cuts. And did everything they could to make President Obama Job as hard as they could. And the Republican have make It easy for everyone to see. Heck Mitch McConnell came right out and say the only job the Republican had was to make him a one term President. It not up to the Republican to do this, It the American People job to say If he go or he stay. But i think the Republican plan has back fire on them because It making them look worse than they are making him.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • onlysomeguy

      No .. most didn't respect Pres. Bush, either. His extremely low approval rating backs that statement up.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. retired teacher

    I think every one of these Senators and Congressmen, no matter the party, are a disgrace to the United States and to the positions they hold. It is obvious that they are not here for the betterment of our county nor to care for the people of this nation. Their inability to work together and find a common ground is deplorable. They are playing with fire, yet we are the ones who will get burned. I pray that each one will be voted out of office.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • In Debt

      I agree, why is it that when elected officials run the country in to debt they are allowed to run for re-election?

      July 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • onlysomeguy

      Let's be straight, though. The "fire" they are playing with is the outrageous amount of spending they've been doing - and want to continue to do by raising the ceiling on our federal debt (a huge mistake). Our debt is already at 95% of GDP. That's nothing to scoff at - given how much money we're talking about. Greece's debt is pennies when compared to our massive amount of debt. And, I'm not even talking about other public and private debt.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary B

    I am proud to be an American, but not very proud of our politicians. It appears to be a big game to them without really caring about the people who elected them.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch McConnell

      If politics was boring would any of you pay attention? They are hamming it up for the cameras.

      July 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mitch McConnell

    July 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Arran Webb

    I need a cheap car, a flimsy house and consumer items that date quickly. Also bad mass produced food loaded with fat and preservatives. I need a second rate education for my kids and healthcare that threatens to bankrupt my budget every month simply so that I can keep my flimsy house if that "major health issue" comes at my family. I need to covet middle class values so that I can think that I am doing better than I am. Hey I have all that! I am one of the lucky ones.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    People need to recognize that this is all about politics for the Dems and Repubs. I believe that the Houses position is more reflective of The average Americans position and that Obama is only worried about reelection. Otherwise Cut, Cap and balance would already be law because it is and was the best option put forward.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. beth v.

    forgive me if im wrong, but currently obamas main man in charge of labor is under financial investigation, does that throw up any warning flags for anyone ? And only a few days ago didnt obama say he would envoke the 14th amendment; section 4 over congresses reguardless of the outcome, right ? why hasent anyone investigated obama for breaking the same amendment law he plans to envoke ? He did so by giving Pakistan threehundred and something billion dollars knowing pakistan was housing bin ladin (in a mansion) and funding the taliban with the given u.s. dollars ! therefor obama broke the 14th amendment; section 4 where it states " but neither the united states nor any state shall assume or pay any dept or obligation incurred in aid of insurection or rebellion against the united states", isn't that exactly what obama did ? did every one miss this ? or just choose to ignor it ?

    July 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Laurie Stauffer

    They have no right to take what we worked for and paid in all our life. None of the house should get paid either.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
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