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. Coigne

    The Tea Party is subverted and manipulated to serve the agenda of the rich. The Koch brothers own the tea party. Members of the tea party are well-meaning dupes, sheep participating in their own slaughter. The ignorant are easily fooled.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Master Flash


      July 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moe NY

      So very true Coigne. I would like to see the elderly stopped being blamed for the election of the Teabags in 2010. I am an elderly person, and trust me...NEVER would vote for a republican/teabag. I do not know how this blame game started/or who started it, but I do not know of any elderly people, in my circle of friends, who voted for teabags, or republicans. Stop blaming the elderly...they are so much smarter than you think...they have been around the block before. The so called young people in this country need to get their own life, and stop playing the blame game. Go out into the world...experience it, stop moving back in with your parents. I love the young, but they really need to experience life first hand.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Mr. Messenger:
    What are you taking about?
    Obama HAS OFFERED a compromise.
    My Republican Party, except for a few wise, pragmatic persons, will not compromise. I am ashamed of them.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Coigne

    Why are we paying gops to represent us? They represent only the rich who bankroll their campaigns. They want to privatize the air we breathe. They make $17,000/year. FREE health care. Retirement benifits. Why are we paying these scam artists? They are accountable onlyt to their masters–not us.They've forgotten We the People.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Monique laidlaw

      If that is not the truth I dont know what is.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moe NY

      $170,000 a year, and not one of them is worth their pay. Term limits is the way to go, and all Americans know this for a fact. Problem do we vote in term limits, with both political parties voting against term limits? Must be some way to do it! As for the politicans benefits...should be just like the average American worker...once you leave the job...benefits expire...with the exception of Presidents. Just my take on the situation...

      July 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Coigne

    Sorry, that's $170,000/year. We are being scammed.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr Murf

    The only difference between economics at my house and economics in Washington is that when I reach my credit limit (debt ceiling), I have to stop spending foolishly and pay down my debt. In Washington, they get to raise the debt ceiling (credit limit), and with the stroke of a pen, take more money from those with money to continue spending like a drunken sailor.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • goodbyeMiddleClass

      Mr. Murf, I hope your family never has a sudden loss in income because of injury, illness or job loss preventing you from working (particularly if you run your own business), expensive medical expenses not adequately covered by insurance, etc., etc. Life is full of crises and if you were unable to keep to your budget to pay for the costs of dealing with these crises would you just not get the medical care, feed your family, stop paying your bills? Unlikely. If you have savings, you draw on them to get you through, but if you don't have enough in savings, you borrow. Countries have unexpected massive expenses all the time so that a balanced budget is an ideal but should never be allowed to keep the country from meeting threats. If we'd had a balanced budget requirement during 9/11 it would certainly have stopped our immediate implementation of increased security throughout our country. Let's hope we don't get attacked again if you get your balanced budget amendment through. We'll be a sitting duck for any enemy or natural disaster.

      July 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    America STOP talking.

    March into Washington this Monday and arrest ALL congressional republicans.


    Enough with the talk, talk, talk.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin T

      I like the way you think..... it should be a crime to hold the US hostage like this.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moe NY

      John...I agree with you,, but have been checking out all different media boards, etc. and there is a lot of talk about marching on Washington republican/teabags, but no organization for an actual march. I am 64, able and more than willing to march against the lies of the republicans/ you know of any organized march?

      July 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chad

    Wow. There are a lot of people posting that actually believe what some of our politicians are saying. Some of what you hear isn't the truth. Starting with Obama.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cindy

    Wow, You Suck...the name is so fitting for you! What a horrible thing to say to a mother worried about her disabled child! You should be ashamed of yourself! You are blessed not to ever experience what this poor mother has to go through everyday, and yet you want to sit there at your computer screen and tell her what she should be doing! You don't know her or her life. You should stop and think about others before you open your ugly mouth! People are struggling all across America, people that have no control over what is happening to them! All you care about is putting people down and making yourself feel superior. I hope you never need any help in your life. Especially if you are this rude and ugly toward people when you are not behind a computer screen. Because most people would not help you, unless of course they are as nasty of a person as you have been on here! Also, instead on the stupid comments you have posted on here, why not try actually contributing to the article, like a plan.
    I hope all of the people that depend on social services, ie Social Security and Medicare get their benefits next month on time. I also hope Americans get the message and remember come next election how poorly these elected officials have behaved!

    July 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Martin T

    The Tea Party is going to ruin this Nation. Between the Religious Hard Right ideology and serve the rich masters, we are doomed. IF Michele Bachman were to ever be elected to the Presidency, I swear my wife and I will move to Canada. I'm dead serious, too.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      Just a question. Aren't the people in the govt that spent us into this the real problem? Both Republicans and Democrats.

      July 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. marie matzek

    I am ashamed of ALL of the party members on both sides. It seems they have forgotton something-ALL of them. It is not only about money and power-but the FREEDOMS THAT ALLOWED THEM THE ABILITY TO BE IN THEIR POSITIONS OF WEALTH AND POWER.They weild it like a phallic symbol of who they THINK THEY ARE. What is going on is paramount to turning their backs on the American people and the American Freedoms. This is not grass roots nor is it progressive-it is juvenile.Reguardless of what way things go they go home and loose none of their comforts-and they worry not about all of us that are left behind to deal with the crap they leave behind. SHAME ON ALL OF THEM .

    July 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    My doctor told me that drinking too much tea will cause constipation. Maybe the tea party needs an enema?

    July 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richard M.

    Until there is a solution to this problem. All pay and benefits for all member of Congress should be suspended. The pay for the President should be suspended. As a matter of fact, make Congress subscribe to the same health insurance that we pay for. Make them pay for a share of their health insurance. And, when they leave Congress, their benefits should be terminated.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stop the Lies Republicans/Teabags

    The Republicans/Teabags are liars. Deal is not close. These republicans/teabags are just disgusting. Give you a hint republicans/teabags...keep your dam greedy hands off os Social Security/Medicare...mess with it at your own expense.

    July 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerry

    Why is the fear tactic of not paying the military or social security being used and no mention of all the civil service jobs created by this administration. Are they all getting paid

    July 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ramtough

    GIT 'ER DUUN!!

    July 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
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