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House Readies "Government Shutdown Prevention Act"

The first of two follow-ups to my post this morning about a potential GOP cave-job in the 2011 Continuing Resolution fight.  House Republican leadership is preparing to make a new play, aimed at highlighting Democratic inaction.  More than a month ago, the House passed a comprehensive CR, which funded the federal government for the remainder of the year.  The Democrat-controlled Senate promptly rejected the House version, then defeated Harry Reid's alternative by even more votes.  Since then, any Democrat within three feet of a microphone has been denouncing the GOP plan as "extreme" -- which
we now know they've been commanded to say. 

As they lob potshots at the extremely modest Republican plan, Senate Democrats haven't publicly introduced an alternative ("party of no!").  House Republicans plan to highlight this point on Friday, when they'll introduce the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act," which, according to Speaker Boehner's office, will do the following:

(1) Chastise the Senate for its failure to act and demand they pass a 2011 spending bill of their own.  (This would [a] underscore rifts within the Democratic caucus, and [b] potentially produce a bill that could serve as half of the basis for a compromise).

(2) Stipulate that if the Senate does not act on this matter by next Wednesday (April 6th), H.R. 1 -- the original House-passed CR with $61 Billion in cuts -- would become the law of the land.  (This is largely symbolic, because the Senate won't pass this measure, nor would the president sign it).

(3) Cut off Congressional Members' paychecks until the funding impasse is resolved. 

Boehner's bottom line to Senate Democrats:  Hey, chumps, if you have a spending cut plan that's better than ours "pass the damn thing," and stop "rooting for" a government shutdown (which -- I'll say again, and borrow the Speaker's word -- would be their
own damn fault):

Meanwhile, Democrats claim they're only $6 Billion away from striking a deal with Republicans (take this with a big grain of salt):

Senate Democrats asserted on Tuesday that the two sides are only $6 billion apart from a deal to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30, and urged House Republicans to come to the Senate to hash out a compromise.

Republicans disputed Democrats’ account of events and stressed any talk of a deal is premature.  “There are a lot of numbers that have been discussed and thrown around,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on Tuesday. “The fact is, there’s not an agreement [among] numbers. And secondly, nothing’s agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

And are Republican leaders splitting over the scope and directions of the negotiations?  Things seem pretty fluid right now:

Moving to the right of Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor distanced himself Tuesday from spending compromises discussed with the White House and took a harder line on whether Republicans should keep the government open absent a budget deal next week.

“Time is up here,” said the Virginia Republican, telling reporters that a short-term continuing resolution “without a long-term commitment is unacceptable” and that the leadership must push for the full $61 billion in spending cuts approved by the House last month.

...At a news conference just hours after Cantor’s comments, Boehner refused to rule out another short-term spending bill and didn’t walk away from the fact that in the course of negotiations, smaller cuts have been discussed — albeit without agreement.


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