Even so, Reid said he wants to "give credit where credit is due, and thank Speaker Boehner for his leadership here in defusing another fight over the debt ceiling."
In fact, Boehner and other top House Republican leaders were laying the groundwork for Wednesday's vote even before the House GOP gathered last week for its annual issues and policy retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The hurdle was to sell the almost contrary idea of temporarily allowing more debt -- as a necessary strategic step in order to allow more time to take on the nation's skyrocketing debt problem.
To get there, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers explained to National Journal on Wednesday that Boehner and other House GOP leaders promised rank-and-file members they would stick to the cuts agreed to in the sequestration process, which on March 1 are to lower 2013 discretionary spending to $974 trillion unless Democrats agree to mandatory cuts as a replacement.
Rogers said Boehner has promised the sequestration cut, which is split evenly between military and discretionary domestic spending, "will stay in effect unless it shall be replaced by other spending of equal size from other parts of the budget." And he said Boehner has promised that the $974 billion figure will also be reflected in the spending measure needed later in March to keep government running for the remainder of the year.
But Obama and congressional Democrats are insisting that such deficit-reduction maneuvers also include new tax revenues, and so the upcoming fights over the sequester and how to keep government running are likely to represent the bigger battles ahead for Boehner, as opposed to Wednesday's temporary debt-ceiling vote.
On top of that, Boehner himself underscored in a statement that the House is committed to a policy of balancing the budget within 10 years.
If that is the deal Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan have made with conservatives, then Steve Bell, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said, "I foresee nothing but really serious difficulties for Boehner and the Republican Party in the years ahead."
"What I can tell you as a practical matter is what will have to happen [in cuts] to the domestic and entitlement areas will simply be too much even for the vast majority of the Republican conference to accept," said Bell.
For now, top House Republican aides seemed to be basking in the view that Boehner is gaining some traction with his victory in Wednesday's vote -- and in what appears to be a failed effort by top Democrats, who had urged their members not to vote for the bill.
"I think the whole purpose of this exercise was to focus further down the road--on dealing with sequester and [continuing resolution]," said a senior House GOP aide. "It takes the threat, the cudgel that the Democrats could use that we are threatening the viability of the nation off the table, so we can start making some of the hard choices we've got to make about spending going forward."
"A victory for Boehner? I think it's a victory for the conference," said the aide.
Amy Harder contributed.