Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1, 2011: House Bipartisan Vote 269-161 for Debt Ceiling Bill — Gabrielle Giffords First Vote Since Being Shot — Senate Votes Tuesday


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.


Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.

House Television, via Associated PressRepresentative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.



House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe.’ I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
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