BUDGET DEAL PASSES, BUT BOEHNER STRUGGLES WITH HIS CAUCUS…. When the parties reached a budget agreement late on Friday night, there was a sense of relief among those fearing a shutdown. A stop-gap measure would keep the lights on for six days, and the bipartisan deal would finance the government through the end of the fiscal year. All Congress had to do next was pass it.

But as of this morning, passage was no longer a sure thing. As Republicans discovered the cuts weren’t nearly as big as they had been led to believe, there was talk of a GOP revolt. Would the Republican-led House actually derail a budget deal negotiated by its own Speaker?

As it turns out, no. The House approved the budget deal a short while ago, 260 to 167.

But pay close attention to the partisan breakdown. Most Democrats opposed the deal (81 to 108) while most Republicans supported it (179 to 59).

That’s good news for Boehner, right? Well, not really. The day after the deal was struck, GOP leaders said they expected some defections on this, but thought the total would go no higher than 40, and the leadership was prepared to “work strenuously to keep the number below 30.”

The final tally of GOP defections was 59.

Also note, this means divisions among Republicans were so significant, the budget deal would have died, rather easily, were it not for House Democrats who once again saved Boehner.

I’m sure the Speaker is pleased the deal went through, but he can’t be pleased with the margin — a fourth of Boehner’s own caucus rejected the budget deal he personally negotiated.

Postscript: Just as an aside, watching the vote was unusually interesting. Democrats, in large numbers, waited a very long time to register a vote. This wasn’t an accident — Dems knew Republicans were finding it difficult to get to 218, and wanted to make sure GOP members were forced into the uncomfortable position.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.