Winners and losers of the debt-limit fight


The 2013 fiscal showdown was ugly, especially for Republicans. [WATCH VIDEO]

Both parties have scoffed that there are winners and losers in the debate.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFreedom Caucus leader: Despite changes, healthcare bill doesn't have the votes Debt ceiling returns, creating new headache for GOP Letters: Congress, raise the debt limit now MORE (R-Ohio) recently said, “This isn’t a damn game!”

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said “there are no winners” in the battle.

But in every political showdown, politicians rise and fall. This was no exception.

Winners

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.). In 2011, Reid played a backseat role in the negotiations on lifting the debt ceiling. This time around, it was much different. Reid, a former boxer, stood in the middle of the ring as the House GOP bobbed and weaved. The wily Democrat, however, knew Republicans had no way out and would be forced to throw in the towel. Other than a gaffe in the middle of the battle, Reid played it perfectly.

President Obama. He was adamant about not negotiating with the GOP on the debt ceiling, and he deferred to congressional leaders on the day-to-day details. The strategy attracted criticism, but it worked.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi knows how to lean on her caucus, and her vow that all Democrats would reject this week’s hastily arranged House GOP bill was the beginning of its demise.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.). The New Jersey governor’s stock for 2016 is rising, and he emphasized his Washington outsider credentials by recently saying, “If I were in the Senate, I’d kill myself.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). The Budget Committee ranking member pressed the GOP for a “clean” fiscal bill. His protest on the House floor was a huge hit on YouTube, attracting more than 2 million views.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetRNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight Colorado Dem at the center of Gorsuch confirmation fight Gorsuch sails on day one, but real test is Tuesday MORE (D-Colo.). The jobs of the Democratic campaign chiefs got a lot easier because of the shutdown. The GOP’s poll numbers plummeted, increasing the chances the Senate remains in Democratic hands. Republicans are still favored to retain the House, but it’s not the slam dunk that it used to be.

Congressional staffers. The amendment crafted by Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFormer GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World Mercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others MORE (R-La.) didn’t make it into the final bill. That measure would have eliminated the employer healthcare subsidies for congressional officials, something critics said would have led to “a brain drain” on Capitol Hill. Furthermore, staffers won’t have to worry about working Christmas Eve. The bill kicks the next fiscal showdown into early 2014.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. Gray, who is mulling running for another term, took on both parties on the government shutdown, which significantly affected the D.C. government. The photo of the in-your-face showdown with Reid, which ran on Page 1 of The Washington Post, boosted Gray’s stock.

Terry McAuliffe. Before the shutdown, McAuliffe had expanded his lead over Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The shutdown didn’t help Cuccinelli in a state filled with government workers and contractors.

Women lawmakers. Female legislators took a leading role in trying to craft a bipartisan deal. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsFive takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (R-Maine) crafted a solution that didn’t catch fire, but she worked closely with a number of female senators on both sides of the aisle. Those members, who include Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteFEC commissioner to Trump: Prove voter fraud Lewandowski saw no evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire NH governor 'not aware’ of major voter fraud MORE (R-N.H.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiFive takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote McConnell vows Senate will take up ObamaCare repeal next week MORE (R-Alaska) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharLive coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch Gorsuch: 'Of course women can be president' MORE (D-Minn.), could form a new power base in the upper chamber.

Losers

BoehnerJohn BoehnerFreedom Caucus leader: Despite changes, healthcare bill doesn't have the votes Debt ceiling returns, creating new headache for GOP Letters: Congress, raise the debt limit now MORE and his lieutenants. Boehner didn’t fight the ObamaCare defunding strategy until it was too late. Then, he embraced it. Boehner and his leadership deputies came up with creative legislation to jab the Senate, but they had no exit strategy. The result was another failure to unite House Republicans against Obama and Reid. Once again, the House caved to the Senate.

Trust in government. Congressional approval ratings increased after lawmakers rejected military intervention in Syria. Weeks later, they dropped like a stone amid shutdown politics. Washington is as unpopular as ever.

The economy. The shutdown cost the fragile economy at least $24 billion, according to a new estimate by Standard & Poor’s. It was a self-inflicted wound.

Vice President Biden. The possible 2016 presidential candidate played almost no role in the deal-making, a striking contrast to prior fiscal battles. Biden is respected on both sides of the aisle, but some Democrats on Capitol Hill have not been fond of the vice president’s negotiations with the GOP. Last weekend, Biden was vacationing at Camp David. Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Defense chief pushes budget boost, new war authorization | Senate friction over potential NATO addition GOP rep pushes to lift Pentagon spending caps McCain: Not passing defense spending bill would be 'almost criminal' MORE (R-Ariz.) cracked that Biden was in the witness protection program.

Immigration reform. Immigration was pushed to the side this fall, and the chances of a bill getting to Obama’s desk this Congress are slim.

GOP campaign committees. Donations to Republican committees seeking to retain the House and win the Senate are likely to take a hit. This was a demoralizing GOP defeat, and the hangover could last a while.

Mixed

Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzBudowsky: Trump’s war against truth Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing Republicans should seize the moment and repeal ObamaCare now MORE (R-Texas). The GOP base loves Cruz, evidenced by his triumph in the presidential straw poll at the Values Voters Summit this month. But many establishment Republicans don’t like Cruz — at all. Winning a GOP presidential nomination usually requires the help of kingmakers in Washington, D.C., something Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulOvernight Defense: Defense chief pushes budget boost, new war authorization | Senate friction over potential NATO addition Defying Trump, Freedom Caucus insists it'll oppose GOP ObamaCare replacement ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Ky.) has acknowledged through some of his actions. Cruz is taking a different path and will continue to take arrows in the back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate nixes Obama-era workplace safety rule Trump’s Transportation chief's Twitter account: ‘SUE HIS VERY SOUL’ Trump woos right with promise of Senate changes to ObamaCare replacement MORE (R-Ky.). McConnell has been hit by the left and the right for the deal, which he ironed out with Reid. Earlier this fall, McConnell was attacked by Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways MORE (R-Okla.) for not being engaged. McConnell is being challenged in a primary but is favored to win. In the short term, the agreement hurts McConnell. But in the general election, it might help him. Win or lose, McConnell’s eleventh hour involvement cements his reputation as a legislator.

— Ian Swanson contributed.