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. gerrit

    hmm lets see if we raise exsice tax on over see shipping make medical marijauna legal that would save us oh i dont 30 billion a year and if we do away with all the other stupid stuff like tax breaks to poeple makin over 100,000 a year and refom ssi and unemployment make it more retricted and more inforced rules and defiffently get have the lazy butts of section 8 housing.then that would deffintly take us out of the negative not fast but it will come back up

    July 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. HE-MAN

    BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL!!! were broke...

    July 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kathy in Alabama

    Here's my fearless prediction.

    First, the Republicans are not going to agree to any deal. In fact, they'll try to find a way to not pass their own "my way or the highway bill" if the Dems completely capitulate.

    By not coming to a deal before the deadline, they will force the President to do the only responsible thing he can, which is to invoke the 14th amendment and keep the bills paid. Then the Republicans can throw an even bigger hissy fit, and maybe try to impeach the President. (any of this sounding familiar). The Senate will never convict but the Republicans will have months of political theater just before the election. They don't care if the debt ceiling is raised and whether that craters the economy or not. Hey, double dip–one more thing to try to blame on Obama.

    Remember, this is a totally unnecessary crisis fomented by the Republican party. Raising the debt ceiling only means that Congress is authorizing payments on DEBTS ALREADY AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS. There have been a lot of comments trying to make the analogy that individual citizens have to balance their budget, why can't Congress. I think a better analogy is a person deciding not to pay his credit card bill and then wondering why his credit rating suddenly tanks. The Republicans have had lots of different opportunities to avoid this crisis, starting with a clean vote to raise the debt limit and then engaging the President and Democrats in responsible talks to cut spending and address the loopholes and unfairness in the tax code. They've had plenty of opportunity to come to a compromise which would have benefited their position, but have managed to walk out just as things were getting close. I can only come to the conclusion that they have no intention of compromising or reaching a deal of any kind.

    If the President is forced to invoke the 14th amendment, I hope the American people will applaud him for his courage and remember who was responsible for creating this crisis, and subsequent damage to the American economy and reputation–the Republican Party.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • dennese

      I will applaud him if he does just that!

      July 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • mae osborn

      You go Kathy.
      But like I said its Gods plan
      So it don't matter who they blame
      JUDGEMENT DAY is near and none
      Of the accused can hide from that

      July 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mae osborn

    What is this world coming to
    Oh Yeah its called the end
    And its no-ones fault
    its Gods PLAN.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joey puerto rico

    Let the top 1% help this country get back in shape and ease the foot off the throats of hard working middle class

    July 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jude

    republicans went to bed with the devil from Teabaggisstan. They are burdened with this yoke and will bring our country to third world standards as they push to take america "backwards." Sad to see the bagrobots acting in behalf of a very small blind klan of folks being funded by very big $$$ and ignorantly ignoring the plight of the average american. Sad times for america but we've seen worse in our american past as we progress toward a more civilized society

    July 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • mae osborn

      Yep that devil comes in all shapes and forms
      Good somebody on here recognizes him

      July 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. polobear1975

    Get mad because you think I'm playing the race card if you want...that's fine but you all know full well why this is happening now. With all of the prior times that the debt limit has been raised with other presidents, you just sound foolish trying to explain away why THIS president is so vilified. I'm so sick of back-door racism in Washington.

    I'd have much more respect for you all if you would just come on out and say, "Yeah, I just don't want him in office because he's black and dares to have a name like Barack Obama."

    July 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name

      Wow. This is pretty myopic and racist. You must be very proud of yourself for being able to point your crooked finger at everyone else.

      July 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mae osborn

      This is one of the most truthful honest and sincer comments I have read today.
      All I can say to this is good looking out.

      July 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Name*Kevin

    If I were american. I would buy land in canada now. Check out or better yet move to where jobs are being created in Smithers in Northwest BC.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greg

    Make everybody equal? Who are you Ho Chi Mein?

    July 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    Click my URL to see nice lakefront lots that Americans can move to, and join the others that left in the late 60's

    July 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Name*james

    When will the people learn? These politicians dont care about the people,all they care about are themselves. They gave the rich tax breaks, yet still no jobs, they vote in a healthcare bill so EVERYBODY will be insured still wr have medicare,and medicade. What is going on with tje federal government? They get paid to do a job,yet they cant act like grownups to get it done. Give the states back their power again so we can get back to the basics. We the people need to gain our self respect again and make them accountable for what they do, or is it to late have they beaten us down to much to just submit to their will. WE THE PEOPLE

    July 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John Tullos

    Let me get this right. The house and senate wants obama to make up his mind. Please the man could not find his way out of a paperbag. Yall do the right thing give the elderly and. The people on ssi there money.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Sorry John, you didn't get it right. The President has made every effort to let the House and Senate know what they should do (and the only reason that the goalposts have moved is because both sides have continually shortened the field). The President is a very intelligent and pragmatic man and has outlined some very good proposals that have been quite bi-partisan (at the risk of alienating his own base) but the House and Senate have both decided to punt even when it was only second down and goal to go. Now it's the final seconds of a tie game and one side or the other are going to have to depend on a Hail Mary or we, the fans, will be the losers.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Noise

    @ Chad: The disabled person you told to "Start Packing" was not only wrong, but if this country defaults, and the stock market crashes, anyone's job is not safe....INCLUDING YOURS. Also, if you add .50 basis points to interest rates you add another 600K to the unemployment rolls. FURTHERMORE, while this country is in 3 wars, our enemies are enjoying americans fighting americans. It is times like these that gave Hitler his rise to power. Are we next? If so, this country is no longer the greatest on earth, and we get what we asked for. Kiss your bank account behind, you lose!

    July 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tom

    polobear1975! I think your probably right! In Texas, I have heard it said more than once.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CBR

    What we are seeing is another example of the Washington gridlock. The Republicans have not moved forward. Speaker Boehner is not willing to lead the House Republicans. He is giving power to Eric Cantor and others whose hard line on every bill does not leave room for compromise.

    The Senate Republicans are perfectly happy to sit back and do nothing. They have no intention of doing anything that might be viewed as supportive of President Obama. They do not want him to have a second term and have spent the entire time planning his demise. They are not receiving feedback from people demanding that they do the job we are paying them to do. What workers are allowed to sit back and do nothing because they object to the person hired as boss?

    The Democrats have been able to break through and get those who are willing to work in a bipartisan fashion to meet and get the country moving forward. It should be a joint effort.

    The American people have allowed those in Congress to continue to get a paycheck and all the benefits without doing the job they were elected to do. The TEA Party has stepped up its rhetoric and they have made statements about certain Senators and their campaign for re-election. Do they represent your views? They will stymie their efforts to be re-elected if they do not agree with the TEA Party. Why in the world are we allowing any one group to speak for us! We will wake up one day and wonder how these changes happened and how this country lost its focus.. What programs will be cut back or lost? What Americans will be footing the bills without seeing any growth in their paychecks? What new jobs will result from all of this bickering? Will those in the top tax brackets continue their opportunity to have smaller tax burden? Will large corporations and their executives continue to receive huge paychecks and benefits while their companies are cutting jobs and/or sending them overseas.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
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