But without any final plan, the fierce tug-of-war between Democrats and the GOP over whether to raise the government's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling continues.
If the debt ceiling isn't raised, many, including President Barack Obama and the Treasury Department, warn that the country will risk unprecedented default. That default¬†could cause Americans to face rising interest rates. It¬†could also mean that the value of the U.S. dollar would drop compared to other currencies. As interest rates increase, the cost of borrowing rises, so individual mortgages, car loans and student loans could become significantly more expensive. As individual Americans' personal finances take a possible hit, some financial experts have warned that America's AAA credit rating could also be downgraded, threatening an already drooping stock market.
Obama recently indicated he can't guarantee Social Security checks will be mailed out on time if the debt ceiling is not raised. Other critical government programs could be in jeopardy as well. Several CNN iReporters have weighed in on how the debt ceiling issue is affecting their lives. Here are a few answers to the big "What Ifs" of the debt debate compiled by Reuters, and linked out from CNN's Political Ticker and Candy's Crowley's Sunday show "State of the Union".
So where does America go from here? What lies ahead today and for the week?
The GOP-controlled House on Saturday rejected the debt ceiling plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. The plan was rejected 173-246; a two-thirds majority was required for passage. Most Democrats supported Reid's plan, while every Republican in the chamber rejected it. On Friday, the House passed a proposal put forward by 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 Senate then voted 59-41 to table Reid's bill, effectively killing it.
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.
Late Saturday night, Reid announced a 12-hour delay on a key procedural vote on his debt ceiling proposal. The vote to end debate and break a GOP filibuster will now be held at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, as opposed to¬†1 a.m. Forty-three of 47 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Reid Saturday warning that they would not vote for his proposal as currently constituted.
Reid's plan 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¬†of the savings is 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 McConnell that would give Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling in two steps while providing Congress the opportunity to vote its disapproval.
On Saturday at the White House, Obama met with Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
The president has endorsed Reid's plan and threatened to veto Boehner's plan. Obama strongly opposes any bill that doesn't raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election. 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.