- They'll pass a Continuing Resolution and debt limit with no strings that will last at least two months. This will give time for negotiations without giving away leverage for an eventual deal.
- They'll approve a conference committee. That will show that they're willing to vote straight up or down on the results of the negotiations, with no filibuster or other blocking maneuver by the Tea Party caucus.
- The leadership will shut up about defunding or delaying Obamacare. At this point, they've mostly ended these attempts, but it's a negative sign if they start up again.
- The GOP will sound more conciliatory.
- Tea Party republicans will relent.
These developments are necessary to move ahead with negotiations. The GOP are going to be very pissed. However, horribly angry politicians still manage to make deals, so I'm not giving up hope even if both parties sound a billion miles apart and express utter contempt for each other. That will be the same situation as in summer 2011, which was the last difficult deal the parties made. (Who would have thought I'd look back longingly for those days?)
It's unlikely that the GOP will become serious all at once. There will probably be a short debt ceiling deal first, maybe just a few weeks. The next extension for a longer period will herald the onset of serious dealing.
Here is something I wish the GOP would realize: they've operated with just two approaches to divided government. The first was negotiation amid intense acrimony. The second was confrontation without negotiation. The first approach resulted in the Budget Control Act of August 2011. The second approach has resulted in the capitulation by the GOP. So, really, for the GOP, the choice is negotiation or humiliation. Why is this such a hard choice for them?