Republican lawmakers and top aides surveyed by TPM this week showed little or no confidence that they can win such a battle. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) realizes he probably cannot secure enough votes to pass any debt limit bill out of the House with policy conditions attached. And if by some miracle he does, he'll then have to deal with a Democratic-led Senate and White House who are refusing to negotiate over the issue, and used the same stance to force the GOP to pass two debt limit extensions last year without any policy reforms.There's no doubt that Republicans will eventually have to accept the reality that they need to raise the debt limit, the only question is how long it will take them and whether or not they will raise a fuss. According to Kapur's reporting, it doesn't sound like Republicans believe it's worth putting up much of a fight, but at the same time, they don't seem particularly eager to directly say so in public.
Earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner said he believes the debt limit will be raised, but while his remarks seem like they were intended to stave off a debt limit conflict, he didn't actually acknowledge that Republicans will have to raise the debt limit without demanding a ransom. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began the week making noise about a debt limit standoff as did House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, but McConnell is irrelevant and Ryan seems to be softening his tune, albeit without explicitly conceding the inevitable.
Whatever ends up happening, Congress is already dragging its feet. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says that Treasury's ability to use extraordinary measures to avoid default will expire towards the end of February, which means Congress's failure to act has already pushed the country to within a few weeks of default. Everything will probably turn out okay, but anyone who gives Republicans credit for being responsible on the debt limit should should reconsider their thoughts, because there's absolutely no good reason for there to be even the slightest bit of uncertainty.