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. Ramtough

    This makes it obvious that we need to stop blaming republicans or democrat liberal or conservative or tea party for that matter cause its obvious none of care about US cause if they did they would have brung an end to this foaming-at-the-mouf madness a long time ago. ALL WE GOT IS US, LET'S START PUTTING ASIDE 'OUR' DIFFERENCES AND JOIN TOGETHER AS BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND SHOW THESE POLITICIANS HOW ITS DONE!

    July 31, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Logan9773

      Yeah, this countries starting to die pretty quickly now.

      July 31, 2011 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ross

    Everybody wants to cut, but will see how well it goes when those cuts effects your home, community or job. We have to wasteful spending but don't cut the programs to help American families.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • mel6291

      let's cut govt spending by cutting govt salaries and their perks, like their healthcare and housing and clothing and etc. cars, travel, meals, and on and on. my hours were cut, my health insurance went up, my disability insurance went up, my food and gas prices went up, my rent went up, and now my wages are being cut come september. whether repub or dem i am so sick of them making a big scene trying to scare us onto their side when they will not sacrifice or suffer at all no matter what decision they make. it's long past time to hire the 'dollar a year patriot'!

      July 31, 2011 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Listen to yourself Mel. You want all government workers to suffer because your wages are being cut and your healthcare costs are going up (as for "my food and gas prices went up, my rent went up" it did for everyone else, including those government workers you talk about). As for your wages going down, that is not because of the government unless you are one of those government workers (who, by the way, have had their wages frozen by executive order for quite some time now) but it may be because of fear about the debt ceiling and the resulting turmoil in the stock market. We should stop wanting our neighbors to be brought down along with us and start screaming for a just and balanced approach to extricate our country from this problem. ALL should contribute according to their abilities to the cause of making this a better and more secure country.

      Isn't it time for us to call our representatives out on their political posturing (both sides) and tell them that WE want this resolved? Shouldn't we want this to be resolved in a way that distributes the least pain over WE the PEOPLE without sending those closest to the edge over the cliff? Isn't it time for WE the PEOPLE to act as a civilized community rather than packs of animals in constant battle for the same scrap of food?

      July 31, 2011 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ralph

    These so called TPP/ Tea Party "Patriots" are actually SELFISH, FOOLS, who blindly follow dogmatic extremists because they've been told political hyperbole that "they" have been somehow cheated by the Democratic party.

    Unless these TPP's are in the top 2% in income, they will be slaughtered, (along with the rest of the country), by the extremist fringe of the Republican party if they get their way.

    Well TPP supporters, you are the same people who cheered Bush jr when he slashed taxes below the cost to operate the federal government, AND additionally went on a $5 TRILLION dollar spending binge! (And the $5 Trillion Bush jr spent doesn't include the additional compounded interest consequences).

    And now that the result of Bush's financial death spiral has become critical, and its time to "pay the piper" in part by expiring the foolish Bush tax cuts. BUT bizarrely, the Tea Party wants to empower the same republican politicians who created this mess, to make it worse!

    These Tea Party "patriots" want to exploit the financial crisis that Bush Jr created as a reason to decimate various social welfare programs that they themselves will/do benefit from. Incredibly, these selfish Tea Party supporters don't realize they would be "shooting themselves in their own foot", if they get their way.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim McDonald

    Laura Bush had 10 aids working for her. Michelle Obama has 22+

    July 31, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Kiki

      And people said this whole debate couldn't get more petty. A new low.

      July 31, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim McDonald

      Perhaps you would also like to ignore $100 a plate wago beef? Cant' blame the Tea Party for what you elected.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Kiki

      With the state of the world is this honestly the type of nonsense you fixate upon? No wonder your side doesn't understand what is happening with the debt debate.

      July 31, 2011 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
    • fiskenmann

      That is correct, kiki. You get upset only when the dems are caught but you forget that both sides waste!

      July 31, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. mary

    Why not stop sending money to other countries.Charity starts at home.Another thing,when people on Medicaid go to the hospital,and there's nothing wrong with them or something they could have gone to their family doctor for and didn't justify an emergeency room visit,make them pay the bill out of their pocket,not the taxpayers. Imagine how much money this would save.

    July 31, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Its worrying to see, that these measures (which ONLY MAY) stall the inevitable are not telling the American people "like it is is" I would say these measures put fourth are only allowing the US to tread water for another 4-6 weeks before another regrettable announcement will be made. I would start by bringing the financial assets of those in power down to that of the commoners and see how they struggle with their legislation and bright ideas. Their isn't enough gold in the world...someone has to call time soon.

    July 31, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Wolf Metcalfe

    It is necessary to BOTH raise taxes and cut spending. It is a lie that taxing the wealthy prevents them from entrepreneurship. It is a fact that Federal taxation on the wealthy in the United States is at some of the lowest rates we have had in the past 60 years.

    I suggest the first place the United States look to cut spending is the incredibly bloated Defense Budget. We have something like 1000 military bases outside the United States. I also suggest the LAST place we look to cut is funding for programs that provide relief for the elderly, the disabled, and the ill.

    Along those lines I suggest if the Nation does default and we are unable to meet our obligations the aforementioned groups receive a high priority in whatever payment schedule is arrived at.

    The tea party has accomplished NOTHING of value. Their sole contribution has been to impede and obstruct the political process in our Nation. And if the Nation does indeed default, if the Nation does experience negative consequences related to this inability for Congress to arrive at a compromise, it is the tea party that will be primarily to blame.

    Indeed, there are many that identify themselves with the tea party that are OPENLY CALLING for our Nation to default, they would prefer this nation be harmed in order to satisfy their political opinions.

    Any citizen who wishes to do our Nation harm, anyone who actively works to do so, is a traitor.

    Read more:

    July 31, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. Loren

    Obviously putting the winner of "Star Search- Next President of the U.S.!" in the white house isn't working and all these senators and representatives are scrambling for a chair when the music stops. I truely believe if you put a strong person in the White House next election all the dogs will quit fighting and go to sleep. Democrat or Rebublican or Independent, doesn't matter.Believe it or Not, more than 50% of us voters don't spend all our time posting Democrat or Republican or Tea Bagger slurs, we'll just evaluate our current situation about a month before the presidential election and vote accordingly. It doesn't seem fair but most of us will vote on the person and not the issues. Obama is that guy that everyone liked when HR hired him but after a year or so there's mumbling in the break room on how he never gets anything done, but he seems cool.

    July 31, 2011 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Perhaps Loren. But just maybe if those people mumbling in the break room would stop ONLY trying to get the new guy fired and simply concentrate on doing their jobs (or, Heaven forbid, actually try some of his ideas) they would find out that the new guy really does "get it". A democratic republic can only work if those out of power accept the will of the electorate once the elections are over and work with the "new guy" to go forward (and that does not mean rubber stamping everything he does but it also means not automatically rejecting everything either). Our country will fail if the party out of power only works to obstruct. Going backward is not an option.

      July 31, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. The Ice Man Cometh

    I believe our current government represents everything the founders stood against forming this country....

    They claim to be for us but in the end it's the special interest they favor.
    Oh if only the forefathers of our country could rise up and bear witness to their folly. It's shameful.

    On a side note; Keeping in mind there are good and well meaning folk in office and given a chance to interview them I'm sure they would all say that about themselves .... If the founding fathers would stand before our officials, and give them the what for, they'd be thrown in jail as some national. security threat.

    July 31, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. roye

    Prepare for hyperinflation.

    July 31, 2011 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Micon

      Lol hyperinflation. Gas prices are up 400% in a decade. Food prices have doubled in that same time period. Energy costs are soaring through the roof. We're obviously in a depression and they just keep printing and tossing money at a broken system. This economy will never recover until the above mentioned problems are solved. Our selective socialist system is doomed to fail. Sad thing is, you cant even vote these idiots out of office. Yes, we have 99% of the votes but the top 1% are the people and businesses that get to choose who run for political seats. This means they'll always get their puppets and get to make the real decisions behind the scenes. The extreme partisans and their selfish agendas have ruined this country.

      July 31, 2011 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul Banta

      Waiting for the economy to go to plaid!

      July 31, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. jdog

    I can't believe this Bow-ner and harry Reed are still erect

    July 31, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. jdog

    This Bow-ner and harry Reed get excited by a "gang of six"

    July 31, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. saaaly

    anderson cooper is a total f a g!!!

    July 31, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. suzanne

    Interesting all these cuts and no mention of senate president and congress salaries being drastically cut. Whats good for the goose doesnt seem to be good for them. Jump on board and take a dose of your own medicine to gentlemen.

    July 31, 2011 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. southern_gent_from_mississippi

    @walter smitty. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, people should remember that first. The poorly educated repubs seem to forget who got us into this mess in the first place. Its 30+ years of deficit spending by mainly republican presidents that caused the problem. It all started with ronald reagan telling us that defecits werent really important as he cut taxes and at the same time spent wildly taking our country on a road to ruin, then on to bush senior, more give aways and unfunded wars, an then bush junior, even more tax cuts for the rich and more defecit spending (borrowing) to fund his wars. They took over 30 years getting us to this point but somehow, the tea party and their repub lap dogs are able to twist the facts of it and make it seem like our current 2 year president caused the 30+ years of unfunded' defecit spending. The only way I can see where people would believe such garbage is if theyre highly uneducated. How else could they blame 30+ years of government overspending on someone whos only been president for 2 years?????

    July 31, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
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