Debt-ceiling drama unfolds

With the clock counting down to the Tuesday debt-ceiling deadline, the drama on Capitol Hill has come down to climactic votes on the compromise deal.

Friday

After days of negotiations between House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama to try to save $3 trillion to $4 trillion in the federal budget, talks break down over tax and entitlement changes and plan enforcement.

Obama

President Obama in a press conference: “I've been left at the altar a couple of times. . . . And I think that one of the questions that the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is can they say yes to anything?”

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Saturday, July 23

Obama calls congressional leaders to the White House for an emergency session. The meeting lasts less than an hour, and the leaders return to Capitol Hill to work on plans. Meanwhile, Obama calls Boehner and suggests reviving the big deal by lowering the target for tax hikes. Boehner refuses to re-engage.

McConnell

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “The president wanted to know that there was a plan for preventing national default,” Mitch McConnell said. “The bipartisan leadership in Congress is committed to working on new legislation that will prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending.”

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Sunday, July 24

Leadership spends the day trying to produce a compromise that could quickly clear both houses. Obama rejects a proposal drafted by aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Reid later says he never endorsed the package.

Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to House Republicans, according to a source familiar with the conference call: “ . . I do think there is a path. But it's going to require us to stand together as a team. It's going to require some of you to make some sacrifices.”

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Monday, July 25

The House and Senate reveal separate but similar plans based on the weekend negotiations. The major difference is Boehner’s insistence on a short-term debt-limit extension that would force another vote next year to increase the government’s borrowing authority.

Obama

President Obama in a televised address: “We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.”

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Tuesday, July 26

The Boehner debt plan is scored by the Congressional Budget Office, revealing not $1.2 trillion in cuts but $850 billion. Within hours, Boehner rewrites the bill with $915 billion in cuts. But trouble among Republican ranks is brewing.

Jordan

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): “I am confident, as of this morning, that there were not 218 Republicans in support” of Boehner’s proposal.

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Wednesday, July 27

All 53 members of the Senate Democratic caucus announce their opposition to the plan in a letter to Boehner.

SenateLetter

Senate Democratic caucus: “A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it. Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months. Every day, another expert warns us that your short-term approach could be nearly as disastrous as a default and would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating.”

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Thursday, July 28

Boehner lieutenants spend the day trying to coax undecided Republicans to support the leadership's position, but the vote is canceled late Thursday because the votes are not in place.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), saying she would vote no a few hours before a vote was scheduled to take place: “I am committed to not raising the debt ceiling. . . . Despite John Boehner’s best efforts, absolutely faithful efforts, to try to put a plan on the table, the problem goes back again to the president’s failure of leadership.”

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Friday, July 29

House GOP leaders offer party members a reworked plan Friday morning designed to appeal to tea-party-allied conservatives. The plan passes 218 to 210, just above the 217 needed. The Senate votes to table the House bill.

Obama

President Obama: “Today I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.” “There are plenty of ways out of this mess, but we are almost out of time.”

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Saturday, July 30

Leaders struggle to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers. The House rejects Reid's original plan. Reid's revised plan is considered. White House enters intense negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a last-ditch bid to forge a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt limit.

McConnell

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “We're going to get a result on a bipartisan basis. That's what I'm working on.”

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Sunday, July 31

All congressional leaders agree to a compromise plan to lift the debt ceiling. President Obama announces the deal in a press conference. See what the Democrats and Republicans wanted and what they got in the deal.

Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid: “We're moving forward together.”

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Monday, August 1

A solid majority of Republicans and about half of the Democrats approved the debt deal Monday night. See how they voted.

Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), a few hours before the vote: “The legislation will solve this debt crisis and help get the American people back to work.”

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SOURCE: Bipartisan Policy Center; Staff reports.
GRAPHIC: Kat Downs and Laura Stanton - The Washington Post. Published July 30, 2011.

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