House Republicans announced Wednesday that they would take up a largely symbolic bill this week that would make their long-term spending plan law if the Senate fails to act on a similar measure.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said at a press conference that Republicans would consider the Government Shutdown Prevention Act on Friday. The bill would make H.R. 1 law if the Senate fails to pass a measure “before April 6” to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. H.R. 1, which passed the House but has gone nowhere in the Senate, would fund the government through the end of September and seeks to cut $61 billion in spending.
The Government Shutdown Prevention Act also says Member salaries will be frozen in the event of a government shutdown or if the debt ceiling is reached.
“We’re serious. We want to take care of this problem so we can get on about the business of this nation and get Americans back to work,” Cantor said.
Despite GOP claims to the contrary, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act would not become law unless the Senate also approves it and the president signs it into law, neither of which is expected to occur.
Negotiators are slowly zeroing in on a long-term government funding bill. Senate Democrats and the White House have said that they are about $6 billion apart. However, the thorny issue of social riders has yet to be worked out.
Rank-and-file Republicans said Wednesday that they would not support a continuing resolution if it doesn’t include language that defunds Planned Parenthood, health care reform and National Public Radio.
While Wednesday’s announcement on the Government Shutdown Prevention Act may have been nothing more than political showmanship, Republicans’ frustrations were clear.
“It’s time for Senate Democrats to act on the bill,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “The Senate says [they] have a plan, so pass the damn thing alright and send it over here, and let’s have real negotiations rather than sitting over there rooting for a government shutdown.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.