A couple of key developments to consider on the debt limit story.
The story evolved from a chess match Thursday where everyone was afraid to flinch, into full-blown hand-to-hand combat on the Democratic side of the aisle. Democrats are incensed about potential cuts to entitlement programs and party leaders are going to have to do some serious lifting to get members on their side of the aisle to vote for any sort of agreement.
Just a few days ago, it was thought that the issue was on the Republican side of the aisle. But now there are serious reservations by rank-and-file Democrats.
Also, this story is now fully about math and how to get a majority of lawmakers to vote on this--to say nothing about clearing the 60 vote hurdle just to get to a vote in the Senate, where there are "clock" issues. In other words, making sure you initiate the process early enough that even if there's a deal, they don't blow past August 2 because of procedural hurdles.
The magical number in the House of Representatives will be 217. By the time there is any potential vote on this, the House will have 433 members (two vacancies and Gabrielle Giffords not voting. There will be a special election to fulfill Jane Harman's unexpired term next week).
Republicans lost 54 and then 59 of their own on the CR to keep the government running back in April.
It is estimated that in a best case scenario, the GOP would lose at least 80 if not more (and that number could be a little low) on any sort of package simply because it raises the debt ceiling (no matter how much it saves) because that is anathema to their district, the tea party movement or the threat of a primary.
If the number is 80, the Democrats have to bring across 57of their members to vote yes.
Or, what if it's a higher figure?
The GOP currently has 240 members. Think if they lose half their members (120). That means the Democrats have to cough up 97 yeas to get to 217.
It is not going to be pretty, even if they get a deal.
A good model to study on this are the two TARP votes in the fall of 2008. The first vote failed. The second one passed. When they finally got the bill to pass, a staggering 176 Republicans voted against a request of their own president.