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. Name*james

    Oh and if you think that obama has anything in common with the average black man or average american for that matter your crazy. Quit playing the race card please,we the people put him in office, black,white,yellow, green, blue, the people.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • mae osborn


      July 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      I am tired of the GOP always blaming President Obama for what are ultimately their own shortcomings. They are divisive and divided and are only blaming the President because there is an election coming up. All I see is that Obama bends over backwards to compromise with the Republicans, even at the risk of losing some Democrats, because he promised to do so; the Republicans do not want compromise, they just want Obama out. They say that he is not leading but, if fact, he is. Ironically, it is the leader of the Republican Party who has not only failed the country but his own party.

      The Republicans have put their trust in Boehner who has done nothing more but play partisan politics from day one and who is clearly far more concerned with his own political aspirations than he is of the welfare of all Americans.

      It is so obvious to me that this fiasco has nothing to do with the debt ceiling or revenues. Some of the things I’ve heard from the tea party would, only ten years ago, truly have been considered treason and downright treacherous. I wonder if we had a white president if the rhetoric would be the same. We all know that the GOP tries to say things that are politically correct by walking a thin line. But we, the American people, can read on, beneath and between those lines. I would love nothing more than for The President to exercise the 14th amendment and put a stop to this nonsense once and for all.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dar

    i agree with the drug testing garenteed to cut that part of spendind in half i believe in ss we pay for that but we shouldnt have to pay for drug addicts health care or other needs its not fair to our childern face it were in the gutter and the goverment will keep sinking us

    July 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jodi Montgomery

    the whole issue is getting old. i think their moms forgot to teach them how to get along with others. make a deal and get on with it

    July 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Taylor

    Every member of the Senate and House of Representatives should be kicked out of office, with the “Tea Partiers” the first to go. The most important – the most critical – task they have to accomplish is keeping the US financially solvent and they can not get it done. Instead they have to politicize it like everything else these days. What a bunch of self-serving idiots.

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

      The American people deserve to know what the national debt entails. Let americans choose what to cut and what not to cut. Congress needs to understand we are way passed worrying about how to pay our house payments, we are now worried more about how we are going to feed ourselves. The United States government is huge. Cut the government first.

      July 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vernon

    Hector, speak the national language-English. You're probably part of the problem. Receiving govt handouts at American's expense!

    July 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duckman

      America has no official language...

      July 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    We The People are the government of this nation! The politicians having their little one-up-manship squabble fest in Washington, have completely blocked out the fact that they are our employees & they work for us until we Fire them! Please, people don't let this behavior go unpunished when the crisis is over & we all go back to "normal"! Remember how these pompous asses were willing to sell out working Americans to cater to their own greed! Let us all "clean house" next election! Boehner has to go & so does the teaparty leaches, sucking blood from the Republican party! I'm good with the 2 party system & we dont need another piggy backing on an established party! Vote, take back our country, which belongs to ALL Americans, not just the rich & the corperations!!

    July 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time in a bottle

      @fernace: You're absolutely wrong in my opinion. The problem with the 2 party system is that only registered Dems and repubs can vote in the primary and many are forced to vote a straight ticket in the general election. You complained about fringe radical elements hijacking the Republican party, but the system is designed to make everyone including the 40% majority independents choose a candidate picked by a 30% voting block. We do need a third primary for independents and heck even the tea party, so we can weed out the bad ones. I hate the tea party and would never vote someone who panders to them. You'd see some kooks in the 3rd primary, but also some centrists who would make the kooks look even more loony than they are. I can't imagine why a person named "furnace" would ever disagree with centrist views.. *sarcasm..

      July 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Time, where do you live that you would be forced to vote a "straight ticket" in the general elections? That would be totally illegal. By the way, in some states independants can vote in the primaries and in some states they can't. That is state election rules, not federal.

      July 31, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Time in a bottle

    Nothing is going to happen. Stop worrying people. This is good ol fashioned politics. Scare tactics and all.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Doyle

    when you negotiate, the only failure, is not to reach a deal. not to negotiate only means that you really don't what a solution.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lecivin

    Look, when the IMF ( of which the US is the most important member) prescribes economic measures for countries in financial distress, it invariably directs the struggling country's government do two things: increase revenues (taxes) and reduce expenditure.So I say: "Physician, heal thyself!"
    Why is it that these republicans don't understand that part of the problem comes from the massive tax reductions given to the rich plus the ridiculous war on terror expenditure undertaken by the Bush Administration. I also believe CNN and the other media houses should be highlighting these facts more.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ginger

    The Tea Party members in the House need to realize they were sent here to speak for ALL the people, not just the TP. They were NOT sent here to destroy the US, which they are well on their way to doing. The Dow is down over 500 points in the last week which affects many seniors that depend on the market to fund their retirement and if the amount of cuts they are calling for are inplemented that will mean many more added to the unemployment rolls as companies go out of business as their government contracts are cancelled. Seems some of these Tea Partiers in the House can't handle their own finances so how can we expect them to adequately deal with those of our country.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shelby

    Tea Party = KKK without the sheet and hood!

    July 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. indepenvoter

    CONGRATULATIONS to MCCONNELL to standing up to Harry Reid and the Senate for snubbing the House of Representatives Bill and the debate and discussion that took place in the House amongst its members-The ARROGANCE of the US Senate is appalling and needs to be addressed in the next Senatorial races in 2012 and beyond–HOW DARE the US Senate think it will TELL Americans what to think-how dare they think they can KICK that CAN down the Road–that CAN is our COUNTRY-it belongs to ALL Americans-not the US Senate.
    Right now the dollar is sinking and the markets are rocking BUT IF OUR COUNTRY WILL FIGHT THIS OUT the recovery will be quick and strong –CUT THE WASTE, SPENDING, DEFICIT –NO NEW TAXES at this time in this economic downturn-we may be headed for a W recession in 2012 and more unemployment –and NO SOLUTIONS from this Senate or the House or the President –just bickering and assumptions that life is great for them and nothing has changed –the time to stop all of this is NOW-Washington will not on its own stop going in the wrong direction-the American people have to roll up their sleeves and move their feet, get angry, roll into action, and TURN things around –remember, that CAN they are kicking around is our COUNTRY and its future.,

    July 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Talk about kicking the can down the road.......the House wants to kick it only far enough so that it needs another kick during the 2012 elections. And the irony of that is that those same congresspeople are the ones who continually carp about business not hiring because of uncertainty. What could cause MORE uncertainty than having to go through this all again in six months? But of course that's what they make sure the economy doesn't improve before the elections.

      What's more, if you really believe that any recovery will be "quick and strong" no matter what happens you are NOT paying attention. And if you even slightly believe that taking money away from the elderly and the middle class will help boost demand (which is the only real driver of the economy) you obviously don't understand economics. But I can tell you one thing that's fairly certain....if the US credit rating gets downgraded, the downside results WILL be quick and strong.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. paula

    First of all to Chad,billions upon billions of dollars in profits is obscene & subsidies on top of it. They can't afford to have they're taxes raised or the other top 1%.
    Come-on where's logical common sense!Now-to the fundamental issue here:no paycks for our military, no va benefits to be pd, no military retirement benefits to be pd (that's the thanks our service men and women get for serving & sacrificing their lives for our country from our so called political leaders from the president on down.Nxt no ss/ssi cks to be sent out, fed workers won't get pd-surely if the rest of us are to do without our incomes I'm sure the president, senators, representatives, cabinet heads are going to forego their paychecks as well!"LOL"(can you all see that happening folks? You no the politico apparently don't read these blogs or comments of former leaders on this issue, cause if they did, President Obama would have invoked the 14th Amendment by now, and the dems & reps would be doing what they need to be doing and teabaggers would be ignored. And if they did pay attention to what is being said-they would know that come 2012 not one of them are going to be office.

    July 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. r.ortiz

    this is the type of congress we have who dont give a big damn abnout the public when they make discisions that will affect every person out there, how dare they say that spending cut include cutting social security payments, people who worked all their lives and depend on their retirment income. congress receives the best medical insurance in the world and do not have to worry about if they have food on the table or a roof under their stupid heads.

    July 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wallygoogle

    Quit raising the ceiling. just get rid of it!

    July 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
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