GOP leaders, mainline caucus fume at conservative ‘no’ votes on three-week CR

In the end, the 54 “no” votes were a decided minority. Just over 25 percent of members of the Republican Study Committee voted “no” with that group’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, and just under 25 percent of the freshman class voted “no.”

The argument that the votes weaken the GOP’s negotiating position is that, in securing a majority, Boehner was forced to rely on Democratic “yes” votes, potentially putting him at the mercy of their demands later. Also, such a high-profile break from the party’s leadership shows Boehner is not fully in control of his caucus, limiting his ability to negotiate confidently with Democrats.

“That’s where I think the speaker has a weaker hand. Having to pass it on Democrat votes,” Kingston said.

The Democratic National Committee gleefully sent email press releases bearing headlines about Boehner’s weakened hand.

Privately, the view is not unanimous. One liberal Democratic aide said he was surprised at the impotence of the Tea Party-backed rebellion.

“I think leadership is pushing them around right now,” the source said. “Who cares if they defect as long as it still passes?”

The argument by conservatives that the vote strengthened Boehner’s hand is that now, Boehner can tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama — if Obama decides to show up for the debate — his caucus won’t tolerate another short-term spending bill. The move puts a firm deadline on the end-game in the negotiations, forcing Reid to act, the rationale goes.

Chris Moody contributed to this report.