Weak Tea: Boehner Sidesteps Questions About GOP Defections Over Weak Spending Cuts

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) predicted Thursday that the spending cut deal he negotiated with President Obama will pass the House on a bipartisan basis, averting a government shutdown. But he sidestepped questions about how many of his own members will defect because the immediate savings are unexpectedly small.

“It’s a bipartisan agreement to cut the spending,” Boehner said at his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters. “I believe that it will pass with a bipartisan majority today.”The strong suggestion here is that Boehner will need Democratic help to pass his bill. That’s what you’d expect in an era of divided government, and it’s what’s happened on other key legislation like emergency funding bills, and Patriot Act reauthorization. It’s a stark contrast to how things tend to work when one party controls both the legislature and the White House. During most of the Bush administration, and the first two years of Obama’s presidency, key legislation typically passed with buy-in from only one party.

But while it’s not a huge surprise Boehner will need Democratic votes, he should hope to need very few. We’ll know just how raw a deal Republicans feel Boehner got when the vote comes down at 4 pm. A big defection is a bad sign for him vis-a-vis his standing with his caucus, and vis-a-vis his ability to line them up for bigger fights ahead.