February 12
Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. John Boehner on Feb. 11 after passing legislation to suspend the borrowing limit without any policy conditions. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. John Boehner on Feb. 11 after passing legislation to suspend the borrowing limit without any policy conditions. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

The debt limit vote passed in the House yesterday (without much of a fight) by a margin of 221-201, with just 28 Republicans voting “yes.” In bringing the vote to the floor, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the rug out from under the malcontent purists within his own caucus who are not willing to be part of a governing body. He may face criticism from some in the Republican Party, but even the ingrates owe the speaker a round of thanks. Anyway, the end result is plain: He saved the GOP a lot of grief.

When Speaker Boehner informed House Republicans of his intention to bring a clean debt limit bill to the floor, Robert Costa of The Post reported, the announcement was mostly met with silence. That prompted Speaker Boehner to ask, “I’m getting this monkey off your back and you’re not even going to clap?” Well, the speaker did more than just get the monkey off their backs. No one clapped because plenty of members of the GOP have painted themselves into a corner where they can’t acknowledge the obvious. They don’t think they can reconcile their pledge to be against more government debt with a vote in favor of increasing our debt limit.

In crass political terms, Speaker Boehner gave his Republican colleagues the license to be against increasing the debt without any fear of another government shutdown debacle. It’s fair to say there were a lot of free-riders among Republicans who voted “no.”

Democrats may have gotten what they wanted, but the speaker’s move gave Republicans what they needed. The members of the House Republican Caucus can go home to their constituents with clean hands, having been held harmless by Speaker Boehner and the Democrats in the House. They got all of the good without almost any of the bad. And without the threat of a government shutdown, Republicans can continue talking to voters about Obamacare and the economy instead of getting distracted and beaten up in a fight they can’t win. Republicans should thank the Democrats for being complicit in the Boehner maneuver to save them from more pointless damage to the brand.

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