The debt limit resolution did not come—as this column predicted it would not—without some significant drama. House Speaker John Boehner did the only thing he could and punted on this issue by putting a clean debt limit bill on the floor and relying on Democrats to pass it.
Boehner first attempted to cobble together a package that would appeal to Republicans but nothing worked. So he sent the matter over to the Senate, joking that he had taken the "monkey" off Republicans' backs.
(Read more: House passes debt-ceiling increase with no add-ons)
Desperate to get out of town ahead of a snowstorm, the Senate GOP leadership was content to let the upper chamber pass the debt limit bill with a simple Democratic majority, saving Republicans a difficult vote.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, still carrying the dimming tea party flame, refused to go along, demanding a 60-vote super majority. That kicked off a desperate scramble on the floor on Wednesday by Republicans who initially directed the Senate clerk to not announce how Senators voted in order to shield those voting for cloture from immediate political attacks.
(Read more: What Congress is likely to hear from Yellen)
Ultimately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas voted with the Democrats to move the bill to the floor for final passage. That brought along a handful of other Republicans allowing for a comfortable 67 votes. But it was an especially brave move by the two leaders, both of whom face significant tea party primary challengers sure to use the debt limit vote as a weapon.
But the Republican leadership in both houses clearly decided the risks of being seen as dysfunctional and in favor of economically disastrous fiscal fights far outweighed the marginal pain of some primary season attack ads.
It was the right call. The GOP has a significant opportunity to retake the Senate by picking up six seats. But it will do so only with general election candidates not viewed as reckless by a statewide audience. The party has now cleared the decks to focus on hammering President Barack Obama and the Democrats over the troubled implementation of Obamacare and the marginal economic recovery.
(Read more: California budget only seems balanced: Kashkari)
The bad news of the week was a series of soft economic reports. These could play to Republicans' advantage and bolster their argument that Obamacare and other administration policies are preventing faster economic growth.
It is too soon to say whether recent data indicate a real slow down—Fed Chair Janet Yellen for one thinks they do not—but it is at least clear that the brutal winter has taken a bite out of growth.