House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democratic votes will push the spending compromise over the top — even if Republicans defect in large numbers over a new report suggesting the bill will cut less than a billion dollars in government spending.
“I have always thought that if he [House Speaker John Boehner] didn’t have enough votes — if he didn’t get 218 on his own — that there would be Democrats who could help put it over the top,” Pelosi said at a Capitol press conference. “It’s just a question of how big that disparity is.”
“I assume they have the votes,” she added. “They seem pretty confident. You sound less confident than they do.”
Boehner’s been on a PR offensive all day, to stanch the bleeding after new CBO numbers suggest his compromise with the White House will only reduce direct payments by about one percent of the $38 billion in cuts he advertised.
If Republicans defect in larger-than-expected numbers, Democrats will be called upon to ride to the rescue, to avoid a government shutdown.
That will give Pelosi some behind-the-scenes leverage with Boehner — after all, passing this bill is not her responsibility. “I feel no ownership of that or any responsibility to it,” she said.
But she suggested strongly that Democratic votes will be there if needed. “This is about keeping government open,” she said.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.