Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: D-Day, Done Deal — Senate Passes Debt Bill 74-26 — President Obama Makes Statement to the Nation & Signs Debt Bill into Law Raising the Debt Ceiling Limit

POLITICAL BUZZ

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.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

IN FOCUS

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday.

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

SENATE PASSES DEBT DEAL 74-26 — PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT & SIGNS DEBT BILL INTO LAW RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

This video image provided by Senate Television shows the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, after the Senate has approved an emergency bill to avert a first-ever government default with just hours to spare. | AP Photo

Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

 

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee’: It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
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