The discussion over the U.S. debt ceiling had been going on for months, but an agreement wasn’t signed into law until the deadline set by the U.S. Treasury was reached.
The debate was a rollercoaster that both shifted markets and brought the fiscal discipline of Washington to the forefront. Everyone from markets, ratings agencies, government officials, and other countries urged the U.S. to find a solution to the debt-ceiling debate. For better or for worse, Congress and the president were able to reach a deal by Aug. 2 and an immediate crisis was averted.
Although many are intimately familiar with the events leading up to the signing of the debt-ceiling bill, seeing the president and members of Congress in action gives a new perspective on the talks.
Click ahead for scenes from the debt talks, in the month leading up to the compromise.
By Paul Toscano
Posted 3 Aug 2011
President Barack Obama meets with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio) on the patio near the Oval Office on July 3, 2011. The president and members of Congress have been in a heated debate all year over the nation’s debt problems. As seen here, even some of the most pressing issues can be discussed in scenic surroundings. Although it’d be nearly a month before a deal was reached and right before the 4th of July holiday, serious attention was being urged from all sides.
President Obama talks with members of his staff in the Oval Office following a meeting with the congressional leadership on July 7, 2011. Among those in this particular discussion are Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Chief of Staff to the Vice President Bruce Reed, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. At that point, the president described the talks as far apart, but continuing.
President Obama meets with staff in the Oval Office to discuss options for working out a deal on the debt limit and deficit reduction on July 11, 2011. The night before, the president and congressional leaders had again failed to find common ground between spending cuts and tax increases.
President Obama meets with the congressional leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 13, 2011, to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction. About 20 days later, they would hammer out and sign into law a deal that would keep the country from defaulting. That afternoon, the White House said that there was “no alternative to raising the debt ceiling.”
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with House Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) in the Oval Office on July 20, 2011, to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction. The pressure from the public was intensifying, with former economic advisor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said a U.S. default would be “Lehman on steroids.”
President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Chief of Staff's West Wing Office at the White House, to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks, July 21, 2011. At this point, ratings agencies were pressuring the government with possible downgrades, with S&P saying that the chance of default was 50-50.
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 23, 2011, to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction.
The discussion lasted for less than an hour, and there were no breakthroughs in negotiations.
President Obama and Vice President Biden walk around the South Lawn of the White House on July 24, 2011. Meanwhile, markets continued to pressure the White House and Congress to find a compromise that would stop a default.
Tea Party activists gather on Capitol Hill for a 'Hold the Line' rally on June 27 in Washington, D.C. With the debt-limit impasse reaching a critical juncture, activists from all sides of the debate are reaching out to members of the U.S. Congress and pressuring them to make a decision.
Tea Party activists gather on Capitol Hill for a 'Hold the Line' rally on June 27,. With the debt limit impasse reaching a critical juncture, activists from all sides of the debate are reaching out to members of the U.S. Congress.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was disappointed to find out that the Pi on Wheels pizza truck was out of meat pizzas on Saturday afternoon, July 30, 2011. Pi on Wheels was offering free pizzas to anyone with a Senate identification in hopes of helping the Senate come to an agreement on the debt ceiling.
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) in Chief of Staff Bill Daley’s West Wing Office at the White House to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks on July 31, 2011.
That day, President Obama urged Republicans and Democrats to "do the right thing" and vote to support the compromise proposal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Up to this point, the government was already planning how it would prioritize payments in the event of a default.
President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks on July 31, 2011. The weekend was filled with voting timetables and talks on both sides of the aisle, and although there would be several more fits and starts, they reported being close to a deal.
President Obama talks with senior advisors in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks on July 31, 2011. With nearly every sector of the economy following the evolution of the talks, the stock futures market started looking optimistic for a deal to be reached.
President Obama talks on the phone with House Minority Leader Pelosi in the Oval Office on July 31, 2011. Pelosi had remarked that evening that she was uncertain whether the Democrats in the House would be able to vote for the debt bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives for a meeting with House Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol August 1. The House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate voted that day on the House version of the bill to raise the debt ceiling.
Speaker of the House Boehner departs the House chamber after the vote on the debt extension at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 1. The House passed the bill and the U.S. Senate voted the next day.
Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.), talks with reporters before the Senate passed a deal to raise the nation's debt limit and reduce the deficit.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.)speaks after the Senate voted on the debt-limit bill, as Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Texas) and Sen. John Thune (R.-S.D.) look on at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 2. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the bill to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the U.S. to avoid default on its debts.