Sometimes your closest allies can become your biggest headaches. That's what senior Republicans, negotiating an increase in the nation's debt ceiling, are finding out as the clock ticks down toward the August 2 deadline.
As top Republicans face delicate and difficult negotiations with the White House, they are beginning a concerted effort to prepare newer members of the Republican conference to vote in favor of raising the ceiling. This coming week's most difficult task, some Republicans believe, will be getting their own freshman class to a yes vote.
The hurdles House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and their respective leadership teams face are formidable. The vast majority of new members, coupled with hard-core conservative veterans like Sen. Jim DeMint, began the year indicating there was no way they could vote to raise the debt ceiling. Some even believe there won't be consequences if a deal isn't reached by August 2.
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Slowly, senior Republicans have been walking their newer colleagues off that position. Boehner, McConnell and the rest know what will happen if Republicans and Democrats cannot work out a deal; what's more, they believe voters will ultimately blame them for obstruction, rather than Democrats. "The leadership uniformally understands the need to reach some kind of agreement that will avoid default," said a senior House Republican aide.