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“Any increase in the nation’s debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms of a greater amount,” Mr. Boehner told fellow Republicans last week in a closed-door meeting, restating the same principle he’d insisted on in the 2011 fight.

The same players may be returning, but their to-do list will be even longer this year.

Not only do they have all of the unfinished business of last year, such as tax reform and the automatic spending “sequesters,” but they now have immigration and gun-control debates looming as well.

Those social issues will likely compete for oxygen with the ongoing spending fights.

Democrats have said they will try to push new campaign-finance restrictions and try to broaden voting rights, too.