August 2011 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in U. S. news for the month of August 2011.
Last-Minute Deal Reached to End Debt Crisis (Aug. 1): After days of disagreement, Congress makes an 11th-hour deal to prevent a national default. Neither side—Democrats nor Republicans—emerges as a clear winner in the agreement. The deal raises the debt ceiling in two steps to $2.4 trillion and cuts an initial $1 trillion in spending over ten years. Also, a bipartisan committee will be formed to recommend $1.5 trillion in additional budget cuts. If Congress fails to act on this new committee's recommendations, then automatic spending cuts will be forced. The committee's recommended cuts are expected by November.
Giffords Returns for Debt Crisis Vote (Aug. 1): Representative Gabrielle Giffords appears unexpectedly on the House floor with less than two minutes left to pass a bill to raise the nation's debt limit. It is her first return to the chamber since she was critically injured in the assassination attempt in January in Tucson. Democrats and Republicans, who have been at odds for weeks over the debt crisis, both greet her with loud applause. Giffords votes for the deal and posts a message on Twitter: "The Capitol looks beautiful tonight and I am honored to be at work tonight."
Standard & Poor's Lowers the U.S. Credit Rating (Aug. 5): For the first time in history, the U.S. has its credit rating lowered. Credit agency Standard & Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating from the top grade of AAA to AA+, removing the U.S. from its list of risk-free borrowers. In making the decision, Standard & Poor's writes that the "gulf between the political parties" has reduced confidence in the government's ability to manage its finances. The Obama administration noted that Standard & Poor's made an error in their documentation, increasing the federal debt by $2 trillion. Moody's and Fitch, the two other credit agencies, have decided not to downgrade the nation's rating at this time.
Race for the Republican Nomination Heats Up (Aug. 13): Texas Gov. Rick Perry announces his candidacy in South Carolina while Michele Bachmann wins the Iowa straw poll. Bachmann, who is from Iowa, narrowly beat Ron Paul from Texas in the closely watched Iowa vote. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty comes in a distant third. (Aug. 14): One day after coming in third in the Iowa straw poll, Pawlenty ends his campaign for the presidency. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who did minimal campaigning in Iowa, heads to New Hampshire, an equally important state early on in the campaign.