Politics

Conservatives praise Boehner’s deal but vow ‘no’ votes

Jonathan Strong Contributor
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“This is a win for the party,” says freshman GOP Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, about the debt ceiling deal Speaker John Boehner forged with President Obama to narrowly avert the Aug. 2 default deadline.“This is a good thing,” he says. So good, his party’s boss deserves serious praise. “Everybody in that room loves him,” Walsh says about Boehner, referring to the GOP conference meeting he was walking out of, “including me.”

And yet, Walsh is voting no on Boehner’s deal.

“Yeah, because this final fundamental plan does not change the fact that we’re bankrupting future generations. … So it’s not nearly enough for me, but oh my God! if we weren’t here …” (RELATED — White House: Tax increases still on the horizon)

“I stood up at the end” of the conference meeting “and said ‘I could not be more proud of how our leadership’s handled this,’” said Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, another firm “no” vote, “I’m a bigger supporter now of John Boehner than I’ve ever been.”

On the one hand, House Republicans’ right flank is formally opposed to the debt ceiling deal. Heritage Action, Freedom Works and other outside groups are urging members to reject it.

But on the other, some of these same conservatives admit they view the deal as a huge win for their party.

In Chaffetz’s case, echoed by other lawmakers, he cited Boehner’s amiable temperment throughout the negotiation process.

Rep. Mike Pence, an influential conservative who once served in the party’s leadership, also offered praise for Boehner. He actually supports the deal, calling it a “meaningful if modest first step.”

And yet a significant portion of the party’s right flank will jump ship. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, from Texas, predicted more Republicans would decect, but that the legislation would definitely pass after some Democratic “yes” votes are counted.

One Republican House aide offered a reason why conservatives and Tea Party freshman would vote against the measure even if they thought it was actually a big win for Boehner. “There’s a million reasons to explain a ‘no’ vote,” the source said, but “explaining a ‘yes’ vote is so much harder.”

Another reason behind the tame conservative opposition is basic fatigue. After weeks of negotiations, including at least two working weekends in a row for many professional Republicans, the desire for finality has become a powerful force.