Republicans Take Debt Ceiling To The Limit

The White House may have gotten a clean debt ceiling increase this time, but things likely won't be as easy next time around.

Republican leaders' decision to allow a clean bill stemmed from the political calculation that it was better to keep the public's focus on ObamaCare's struggles as the midterms approach, say GOP strategists.

That factor won't be there when the debt ceiling will next need to be increased at some point in 2015. If Republicans gain Senate seats, as expected, that simple math will make it even harder.

Democrats and a number of pundits framed the vote as the potential end to the era of Republicans demanding concessions in exchange for a debt ceiling hike. But it seems unlikely the same process will happen next time.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke with the majority of their party and voted to allow an increase to the debt ceiling without any attached spending cuts. In the Senate, McConnell voted against the bill itself but supported a procedural motion that allowed it to pass with a 50-vote threshold.

Their calculus is simple: With Republicans likely to pick up Senate seats and fairly good odds of winning control of the upper chamber, they will be in a stronger position to negotiate with President Obama. They'll also be under more pressure from the GOP base not to capitulate — even if they fall short of recapturing the Senate.

"You got the one pass. But if you do take control or come close, saying 'okay, after the next election' isn't going to fly with the base. The base is tired of hearing 'next election,'" said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell. "The base is only going to stay patient for so long."

Read more from Cameron Joesph at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy