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. this is insane

    The entire bunch of these so called leaders of our country are screwing this country up now there r enough of our vetrans men and women who served in many wars who are dependent upon these idiots to fix this situation and yet they continue to bicker amongst themselves republicans want to feed the rich and starve the poor and obama dosent wanna do anything unless it helps him retain office how dare he threaten the little mans livleyhood for his own jollies all i know is i will march on washington if my ww2 vet grandpa dont get what he earned protecting our freedom this is bonkers get the kindergartners outta the house strock it with adults plz and thank you

    July 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • eNVy the Unenviable

      The problem is basically brought out by the electorate who voted for the election of House republicans during the Nov. 2010 mid-term elections. Face the consequences and pay for it. All Americans have to suffer for splitting the Goverment the way they did. What a waste of time and energy when the society nedds so much to be done!

      July 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • usr001

      "obama doesn't wanna do anything unless it helps him retain office" huh? ALL of those fools who signed that (possibly treasonous) Norquist pledge are protecting their jobs, for sure.

      July 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. george

    These republicans in congress think Americans are stupid. Yes, some of them are, like the tea party trash. But the majority of American see these republicans as hackers. Whatever happens in the next few days, we, the majority of American will punish the republicans to make them a permanent minority party starting in 2013!

    July 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James54

    More anti-republican rants ... If democrats (Obama) would have done their job back in 2008 – we wouldn't be in this situation. I love how dems love to blame bush for everything wrong in the world. if you want government interfering in your life & higher taxes please vote Obama in 2012. After all, wouldn't you like to have your wealth spread around?

    July 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • berdine mitchell

      President Clinton eliminated the national debt and SS was solvent til 2042. What happened between the end of the Clinton Administration and the beginning of the Obama?

      July 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sherman

    When someone runs for office, lets assume they are not your average person in maturity. I would advise them to raise the ceiling and hold town hall meetings instead of campaigning to run again. Ask us what we want and don't tell us what you want.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. reform now

    It looks like the Senate is moving toward a compromise. The question is: will the tea party extremists who want everything their way pass it? They don't seem to realize that compromise is necessary to governing.

    July 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim McDonald

      Compromise has given us this unsupportable debt. We need to cut costs and stop kicking this down the road.

      July 30, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gerald

    It's time the people in this country wake up to the fact we cannot continue to spend money we don't have. The feds are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar they spend. Cut, Cap and Balance is the only way out this mess. Obummer is more interested in getting elected than preventing a crisis, he may even want to create a crisis. Wasn't it his former Chief of Staff who said "never let a good crisis go to waste"? He's making Jimmy Carter look good!

    July 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • berdine mitchell

      Clinton had us out of debt and Social Security was solvent to the year 2042. What happened between Clinton and Obama?

      July 30, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. berdine mitchell

    This I know. I worked for years and paid into social security. Now I don't know if I will get a check next month. When Clinton was President SS was solvent to the year 2042. That was good because I won't live that long. What happened between Clinton and Obama? I believe SS was bled out for spending. I believe if it was checked out a good portion of the national debt is owed to SS. Republicans know their Math. If you can bleed out a $1 from the poor and middle class you will get far more than if you get a $100 from the wealthy. The debt talks are power struggles, and political posturing for 2012. Both sides say they are willing to negotiate, speak for and have the best interest of the American people in mind. Yet, I don't sense this is happening. Re-election 2012 is what I hear.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim McDonald

      The National debt under clinton increased by $1,609,557,554,365.20

      July 30, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • usr001

      The National Debt increased under Reagan by $1.86T (FY 82-89)
      The National Debt increased under Bush I by $1.55T (FY 90-93)
      The National Debt increased under Clinton by $1.40T (FY 94-01)
      The National Debt increased under Bush II by $6.1T (FY 02-09)
      The National Debt increased under Obama by $2.43T (FY 10-11) (through today)

      July 31, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • usr001

      But, in the world of Finance, the primary figures of merit are rates (percentages);
      The National Debt increased under Reagan by 186% (FY 82-89)
      The National Debt increased under Bush I by 54% (FY 90-93)
      The National Debt increased under Clinton by 32% (FY 94-01)
      The National Debt increased under Bush II by 105% (FY 02-09)
      The National Debt increased under Obama by 20.4% (FY 10-11) (through today)

      July 31, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • usr001

      Because federal fiscal years run October through September, when a new president takes office Jan 20 they are already about 4 months through the budget passed by his predecessor, and will be unable to influence finances much until the first budget is passed under their own administration. Therefore, for example, for Clinton, he was elected in '92, took office in '93, and the first budget passed during his presidency was for '94.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Faith

    This is a shame. You can not blame our president for this mess. You should have blame bush and congress that put all of us in this mess. Obama came in to office with his plate over flowing. But nobody would say any thing to bush and all he did is spend. And make the rich more richer. I feel if you have never u need to start so we can vote these uncompromising officials out of office. They are suppose to be there for us and they are there to make a even bigger name for themselves in history. The republicians are willing to see people go hungry and with out to prove a point. That says a lot about them.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Faith

    Please everyone get out in vote at election time. So we can show them who they really work for.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • berdine mitchell

      I will and have always been out to vote.

      July 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Zog

    Who is John Galt?

    July 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FoCKYouMaNG

    SSI & SSDI Direct Deposit checks came through in MA. My brother has a severe lifelong mental illness that will NEVER GO AWAY!!! His choices are to NOT TAKE MEDS AND DEAL WITH SEVERE PARANOIA & DELUSIONS or BE A FOCKING ZOMBIE ON MEDS. He's got schizophrenia right after high school and DOES NOT HAVE ANY DESCENT SOCIAL SKILLS to work. So he's a piece of shyt for being born f'd up??? He didn't choose it. And I got news for these ppl WHO THINK THET HAVE $. The dollar will collapse and you will have NOTHING, JUST LIKE EVERY1 ELSE. I'll just go back in the ARMY and be ok. But what do the truely disabled ppl do??? 10 ppl who have sec8 and SSI+SSDI and can work told me they got there $. That's an abuse and fraud. And 1 of 3 things are happening, 1.) Its a COUP, 2.) There trying to take attention of the flooding & failing nuclear reactors or 3.) The economy has no way to rebound no matter how much they raise the debt ceiling. Or 4.) The takeover of the Middle East & WWIII, Saudi Arabia WOULD FALL along with UAE!!! Obama is NOT TO BLAME!!! But every other politician deserves more than not getting paid for a week. They don't live check to check every week. COME ON GUYS, DO YOUR JOBS. WERE ALREADY ALL STRUGGL'N. Don't you fock me, don't you ever try to fock me. I told you along time ago you stupid little monkeys, not to fock me.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Name*rita

    I'll remember this at election time ,I think its time the American people clean the house (the white house that is).we'll take their checks.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. James Devers

    What I don't understand os how people are blaming republicans when they have passed 2 bills to raise the debt ceiling, when our presious President hasn't done his job

    July 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. moxalina

    We as americans need to take our country back. Obviously voting everyone out didn't work. If the American people REALLY had a say about what goes on in our Senate and Congress we wouldn't be where we are today. Our reps in congress and the senate need to pay for their benefits ie. health insurance and take a 50% cut in pay, like those of us who lost our jobs. Get rid of all the special interest people who lobby and eliminate pork barrel spending.

    July 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tim B.

    As JFK would NOT say: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what your Congress is doing to your country."

    If Congress does not resolve this issue before Monday, I will do everything I can to remove all of these self serving, arrogant civil servants from office. They have disgraced their position, they have embarrassed the country and they made the U.S. a laughing stock abroad.

    They have managed to do something I thought would never happen to a body of men and women who hold leadership positions: managed to give our country a self-inflicted wound. The very issue that they are so strident over–the deficit & spending–will be driven up to new heights as our interest on our debt will rise significantly and our expense to service that debt will swell all due to a declining credit rating.

    July 31, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • UTAH

      It is definitely time to create a viable third party that knows how to run our country. Time to eliminate the egomaniacs and idiots in Washington.

      July 31, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
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