The Senate minority leader is a known tactician, but in misjudging the Democratic hand he may have weakened his fiscal-cliff position.
by Shane Goldmacher and Elahe Izadi, National Journal
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was for a vote to grant the president power to hike the debt limit before he was against it.
Within a matter of hours on Thursday, the Republican leader was furiously backpedaling from his own move to force a vote on President Obama's request for unlimited future borrowing authority. McConnell demanded such a vote in the morning, but by afternoon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called his counterpart's bluff and pressed for an up-or-down vote himself.
"I object," said McConnell.
It was a rare strategic misstep for a man often described as one of the Senate's most guiling tacticians. In a week of posturing and positioning on Capitol Hill, people on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that McConnell's failed maneuver cost the GOP some precious negotiating ground. The question was how much.
The debt ceiling is widely believed to be Republicans' strongest point of leverage in the ongoing fiscal-cliff negotiations. Although technically not part of the package of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will go into place on January 1, Congress is expected to need to approve new borrowing authority by late winter. President Obama wants to avoid a repeat of the protracted fight that brought the nation to the brink of default in the summer of 2011 and caused the country to lose its AAA-credit rating. [MORE]
Via Eric Byler