But persuading rank-and-file conservatives who campaigned against perceived wasteful spending is another matter. Republican leaders have been holding "listening sessions" to engage and educate the new lawmakers — many of whom have never held elective office — on the seriousness of the debt-limit vote.
In these private talks — as well as in public statements tailored to conservative voters — GOP leaders frame the vote as necessary to pay for overspending by wayward predecessors, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Moving forward, Republican leaders vow, budgets will be slashed.
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House appropriations panel, promises that the spending proposal he will unveil this week for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year "will represent the largest series of spending cuts in the history of Congress." Additional cuts to the 2012 budget will be proposed later this year.
This is not the first time a debt-limit vote has been used as a political tool. When Republicans held the congressional majority in 2006, every Democratic senator voted against raising the debt ceiling. In casting his no vote, then-Sen. Barack Obama said the request was a "sign of leadership failure."