Although the federal debt ceiling has been raised 172 times in U.S. history, No. 173 proved a contentious affair. Tea Party-affiliated Republicans seized on a previously routine legislative act as an opportunity to cut government spending and balance the federal books. Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner served as a mouthpiece for the conservative agenda, while President Barack Obama sought to organize a long-term plan both parties would sign on to. After weeks of public and private negotiations, televised pleas, failed plans and insults it seemed as though a bill might not be passed by the August 2 debt limit deadline. (Although Boehner championed a bill July 28, he could not drum up enough support within his own party to bring the legislation to the floor and so it was tabled.) But by the evening of July 31, Obama and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell had crafted a compromise that, as compromises so often go, left no one satisfied. Still, with mere hours to go before the deadline, both houses of Congress passed the legislation, narrowly averting crisis.