The intense jockeying over the future leadership of House Republicans collided headlong Thursday with an earlier-than-expected November deadline to raise the debt ceiling — a volatile mix that will be on Speaker John Boehner and the candidates vying to lead the GOP conference to defuse.
Over the next 13 weeks, Congress will need to figure out how to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, prevent a government shutdown, and keep money flowing to highway projects. Any one of those issues would an enormous lift; now all three will fall on a House Republican Conference in flux, with a new speaker, majority leader and majority whip expected to be elected next week but not take over until November.
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Most GOP lawmakers and leadership aides don’t know how it will all get done.
Should Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ascend to the speakership, which looks more likely by the day, he’ll have to decide whether to spend valuable — and limited — political capital in the first few days of his speakership on a treacherous debt limit vote, or to leave it to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to jam it through in the waning days of his reign. He leaves at the end of the month.

The debt limit must be lifted by Nov. 5, according to a letter Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent to Capitol Hill late Thursday. Republicans had been expecting the warning for several days, but Lew’s announcement immediately presented a big challenge for McCarthy.
Some aides wonder if Boehner will push a debt ceiling increase across the floor and then immediately resign, handing McCarthy the speakership before Nov. 1.
After that showdown, Republicans will need to turn on a dime to keep the government open. They’ll have only a dozen days in session after the debt limit deadline to pass another government spending bill. The latest funding bill, which most House Republicans opposed, expires on Dec. 11.
House GOP leadership have almost nothing to say about these developments, mainly because they are still processing the complicated political maneuvering that will be required.
Boehner said last weekend he wants to “clean the barn up” before he leaves. Yet if he turns to Democrats to push through too many controversial measures — including raising the debt ceiling — he could provoke a conservative backlash against McCarthy.
“We’ve received the secretary’s letter and …Read More