Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 29, 2011: House Votes & Passes Speaker John Boehner’s Revised Debt Ceiling Bill 218-210 — Still Retains Opposition from Senate, Obama & White House


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


Speaker John Boehner speaks on the House floor before a vote on his debt-ceiling plan July 29, 2011.

Speaker John Boehner speaks on the House floor before a vote on his debt-ceiling plan July 29, 2011. (C-SPAN)


U.S. House passes Boehner debt plan: With only a handful of Republicans in opposition, the House on Friday voted, 218 to 210, to approve Speaker John Boehner’s bill to raise the nation’s debt limit for a few months. The measure was revised earlier in the day to make it more palatable to conservatives. No Democrats supported the bill. Senate Democrats say they cannot support the bill in its current form.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile. This House has acted and it is time for the administration and our colleagues across the aisle, put something on the table! Tell us where you are!” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“Washington Democrats are all that stand between the American people & a responsible resolution to this debt crisis. The House has now passed not one, but two bills that would cut spending & avoid a national default, while the Senate hasn’t even passed a budget. Americans will tolerate the inaction of the Senate no longer. The Senate should pass the House bill at once & send it to the president’s desk. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Comments on House-Passed Bill to Prevent Default: “The House has now passed its second bill in two weeks that would prevent a default and significantly cut Washington spending. The Senate is a different story. Rather than working towards a solution to this crisis the way the Republican majority in the House has, the Democrat majority here in the Senate has been wasting precious time rounding up ‘no’ votes. Rather than come up with a bill that can pass, they’ve been busy ginning up opposition to everything else. Now it’s time for them to act. I eagerly await the Majority Leader’s plan for preventing this crisis.”

“Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this” … “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. –BO”

“This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling. Congress has the authorities necessary to ensure that we meet our obligations…. Only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That’s just a reality.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

  • Debt deal politicians race against the clock: The White House and Senate Democratic leaders want to finalize a debt ceiling deal with top congressional Republicans by the end of Friday night, fearing that waiting until Saturday could jeopardize efforts to get a final package to President Barack Obama before next week’s critical deadline. It’s far from clear whether they can achieve that.
    Now that the House has passed its bill, the White House wants congressional leaders to race against the clock and reach a compromise before midnight, a deadline imposed by the Senate’s arcane procedural requirements and the failure to reach a deal so far.
    Once the Senate rejects the House bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to begin the process of moving to a final vote on a new plan by Monday morning.
    That means he needs to file a procedural motion — known as cloture — by Friday night to reach his goal. The Senate could only move forward on that plan only after several days of floor consideration and if Reid then secures 60 votes, unless senators allow the majority leader to speed up the schedule.
    But Reid and the White House do not have a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Talks ground to a halt as House Republicans moved forward with their own plan that Democrats oppose. That means Reid may file cloture on his own plan to raise the debt ceiling without GOP support…. – Politico, 7-29-11
  • John Boehner debt ceiling bill passes; Senate deal making begins: Ending a 24-hour roller coaster ride, the House narrowly approved a Republican-backed debt ceiling bill Friday after Speaker John Boehner won back wavering conservatives by adding a provision threatening default next year if Congress doesn’t first approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    In closing remarks, from the well of the chamber, the weary Ohio Republican was alternately defensive and defiant. “I have worked with the president and the administration from the beginning of this year to avoid being in this spot. I have offered ideas. I have negotiated,” Boehner said emotionally. “I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I put revenues on the table in order to come to an agreement to avert us being where we are.”
    Left unsaid was how much the forces in his own party had pulled him back — especially on the revenue issue. “To the American people, I would say we’ve tried our level best,” Boehner said. “We’ve done everything we can to find a common-sense solution that could pass both houses of this Congress and end this crisis.”… – Politico, 7-29-11
  • House passes GOP debt limit plan: Can they do it in time? Twenty-four hours later than planned — and only after a change to mollify conservative Republicans — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, put together enough votes to rescue his debt limit fix Friday.
    The 218-210 vote, along party lines, came four days before President Obama says he’ll run out of the borrowed money that keeps the federal government from paying its bills.
    The House vote kicks the issue once again to the slower-moving Senate, where rules make it all but impossible to vote out a plan before Monday.
    “I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” Boehner said, rallying the House to vote for his plan. “It’s time for our colleagues across the aisle to put something on the table! Tell us where you are!”
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. vowed to do just that. He had been waiting on the House plan all week, prepared to immediately vote it down.
    “No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours — I repeat, hours — to act,” Reid said, announcing his plan Friday morning to move forward with or without the House. “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default.”
    Under Senate rules, the earliest a vote could take place on that plan would likely be Monday or even Tuesday — the day the Obama Administration says it will run out of borrowed money. That would give the House just hours to agree to the Senate version and send the bill to the president…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • House passes Boehner debt bill: President Obama emerged from several days of radio silence Friday with an impassioned appeal to the masses to save the country from the politicians.
    As the debt ceiling crisis ticked down toward Tuesday’s witching hour when the government runs out of cash, Obama asked the country to bombard Congress demanding a balanced compromise that calms markets and salvages America’s credit rating…. – NY Daily News, 7-29-11
  • House approves revised Boehner debt-ceiling plan: After a belabored and bruising struggle to appease conservatives, the House of Representatives has passed Speaker John Boehner’s bill to raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit.
    The bill passed on a 218-210 vote, winning no Democratic support while losing 22 Republicans. It now moves to the Senate where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will go nowhere.
    With just four days left before the government can no longer pay all of its bills, Reid is working on a separate proposal aimed at winning support for Republican moderates in that chamber…. – LAT, 7-29-11
  • House approves GOP bill extending debt limit: Republicans have muscled legislation to extend the government’s borrowing authority and cutting spending through the House over solid Democratic opposition.
    The 218-210 vote sets up a confrontation with the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama, who say the GOP-written measure will die in the Senate. They say the bill would wreak economic havoc because it would force lawmakers to vote on another extension of the debt ceiling early next year, in the heat of presidential and congressional campaigns… – AP, 7-29-11
  • House Passes Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase: The House of Representatives on Friday approved a plan for a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and cuts in spending, ending a week of intense fighting among Republicans and shifting the end game of the debate to the Senate.
    The vote was 218-210, leaving House Speaker John A. Boehner with 22 Republicans who were unwilling to support his efforts to get a bill approved.
    Urging passage for the bill, an emotional Mr. Boehner angrily accused President Obama and his Democratic allies of negotiating in bad faith for weeks and called the bill the only way to “end this crisis now.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Boehner Bill Passes House, Focus Shifts to Senate: House Republicans rallied enough conservatives Friday evening to pass House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-limit bill after days of delay that put into question whether the speaker could secure votes in his caucus.
    The final vote was 218 to 210; Boehner needed 216 votes to pass the measure. No Democrats supported the bill.
    Senate Democrats say the bill will not pass in that chamber, and are likely to kill the measure immediately but putting it aside or “tabling” the measure. However, it is likely that the Boehner bill will be used as a legislative vehicle to pass a new compromise bill in the Senate that, if passed this weekend, would be sent back to the House.
    The House would then have to pass that measure in order for President Obama to sign it. All of this needs to happen before midnight Aug 3., when the United States runs out of the ability to borrow money, according to the Treasury Department…. – PBS Newshour, 7-29-11
  • House nears vote on GOP debt bill; Dems oppose: Partisan to the core, Congress groped uncertainly Friday for a way to avoid a government default threatened for early next week. “We are almost out of time,” warned President Barack Obama as U.S. financial markets trembled…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • House to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill That Obama, Senate Oppose: House Speaker John Boehner plans to take his proposal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling to a vote in the chamber at about 6 p.m., Republican leaders announced.
    The vote is scheduled to occur between 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. in Washington, according to leaders’ announcement….
    President Barack Obama today said Republicans and Democrats are in “rough agreement” on their plans to raise the nation’s debt limit with just four days before a threatened U.S. default and the time for compromise is “now.” Still, the Senate and House stood at odds, with Senate leaders planning to kill the House plan and Obama threatening a veto.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said his party has the votes to pass Boehner’s plan today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he will move to a vote on his competing measure and held out hope for a deal with Republican leaders…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Boehner’s Bill and the Balanced Budget Amendment: Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt ceiling bill would essentially require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress before the nation’s debt ceiling could be raised next year.
    Under Mr. Boehner’s plan, which members began debating Friday afternoon, the nation’s debt limit could be raised by $1.6 trillion in February — but only if the nation’s archivist reports that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution has been sent to the states for ratification.
    The legislation was amended Friday morning to say that the debt ceiling would be increased only if “the archivist of the United States has submitted to the states for their ratification a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States pursuant to a joint resolution entitled ‘Joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.'”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • John Boehner changes debt limit plan to secure Tea Party support: It looks like the House Republican leadership may have found a way to get their members to vote in favor of their debt limit plan: By adding a Balanced Budget Amendment requirement that makes the bill even more toxic to Senate Democrats and the White House. Even before the change, Democrats had vowed to vote down the bill….
    What changed? Members say the bill is being changed to tie a second debt ceiling increase roughly six months from now to successfully sending a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states, which would require a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate.
    They say a vote on the new version of House Speaker John Boehner’s plan will be held today between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time – and the bill will pass…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • Republican senators consider backing Reid debt plan: The House plans on voting on Speaker John Boehner’s debt limit plan this evening, but with its demise imminent in the Senate, some Senate Republicans are considering getting behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s alternative plan.
    “I voted for cut, cap, and balance,'” Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said today, in reference to the House Republicans’ initial debt limit plan. “I’ll vote for Boehner, and I’ll vote for Reid. I’ve already said that. We need to move our country forward. It’s time.”
    Senate Democrats have promised to reject Boehner’s plan, which would only extend the nation’s borrowing authority for another six months. Democrats say it would be unwise to re-create the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction again, just before Christmas.
    Reid’s plan would extend borrowing authority at least through 2012. Like Boehner’s plan, it calls for significant spending cuts and doesn’t make any tax increases. Both plans call for a bipartisan commission to come up with longer-term deficit and debt reduction plans…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • Obama calls for debt #compromise on Twitter: Phones are once again ringing off the hook on Capitol Hill after President Obama repeated his request for voters to call their representatives and let them know what they think about the ongoing debt debate.
    The Capitol call center alerted House offices Friday that the high level of incoming calls put the House phone circuits near capacity. The House faced a similar influx of calls earlier in the week after the president urged people to get involved.
    “On Monday night, I asked the American people to make their voice heard in this debate, and the response was overwhelming,” Mr. Obama said in a White House address this morning. “So please, to all the American people, keep it up. If you want to see a bipartisan compromise, a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign, let your members of Congress know.”
    He urged people to call, email, or contact their congressmen via Twitter — “Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this,” he said. He repeated the message on his 2012 re-election Twitter feed: “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. –BO”… – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • As congressional debt-ceiling plans founder, eyes turn to executive option: There is growing pressure on President Obama to simply declare an increase in the debt ceiling by executive order and tell everyone else: Deal with it…. – CS Monitor, 7-29-11
  • Rejecting the 14th Amendment, Again: While President Obama’s critics on the right regularly call him a tyrant, in the debt-limit showdown he is flatly rejecting presidential powers that others claim for him.
    On Friday, in its most definitive statement yet on the subject, the White House again ruled out the possibility that Mr. Obama would cite the 14th Amendment to disregard the debt-limit law and unilaterally order government borrowing to proceed if no deal was reached by Tuesday’s deadline for raising the debt ceiling.
    Several House Democratic leaders, former President Bill Clinton and some constitutional lawyers in recent days have said Mr. Obama should, if necessary, invoke the amendment, which holds that “the validity of the public debt … shall not be questioned.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Why won’t Obama just declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional?: “Only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s briefing. “That’s just a reality.” Carney was responding to a suggestion floating around that the White House could invoke the 14th amendment of the Constitution to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval—should it come to that.
    But is Carney right? A growing number of top Democrats strongly disagree and think the 14th amendment option is a good last resort. “Is there anything that prohibits him from doing that?” Iowa Senator Tom Harkin told The Hill today. “The answer is no.” Thursday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer described it as the least bad option if Congress doesn’t act. Former President Bill Clinton’s on board, too. And a growing number of law professors and legal scholars are now arguing that Obama would actually prevail…. – WaP, 7-29-11
  • Markets on edge as debt limit debate drags on: The word of the day in financial markets: Anxious. On Friday, traders did something they rarely do: they sold what are considered to be the world’s safest short-term investments. Traders typically buy short term U.S. Treasurys on Friday because they want their money in a safe place in case something happens over the weekend to rattle markets.
    But this week, they instead bought longer-duration bonds as concerns grew that the federal government may not be able to pay all of its bills next month. Yields on bonds due in one month rose higher than those due in six months. The higher the yield, the higher the implied risk of the bond.
    Analysts say it’s a clear sign a short-term default is a growing possibility…. – AP, 7-29-11
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