How do you make it look like you’re desperate to avoid a government shutdown while pursuing a negotiating strategy that’s inviting a government shutdown?
The option the House GOP has chosen is to introduce legislation called the Government Shutdown Prevention Act. Mission: Accomplished!
That legislation, if passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President, would deem controversial Republican spending cut legislation the law of the land if Congress blows past an April 6 deadline.
It’s a new twist on self-executing legislation — better known in the wake of the health care fight as Demon Pass.
“[It is our hope that this bill will, at a minimum, spur the Senate to pass some bill funding the government for the rest of the year so that we can work quickly to resolve any differences,” says Laenna Fallon, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a statement. “If they…fail to act, passing this bill would at least keep the government open. This bill would also ensure that if there are ever any future government shutdowns that Members and the President do not receive their pay for such periods.”
This is better understood as messaging legislation — to make House Republicans appear sincere in their desire to avoid a government shutdown, and putting pressure on Senate Democrats and the White House to act.
House-passed HR 1, cuts domestic discretionary programs — many of them key government services, mainly — by $61 billion. It also defunds the implementation of the health care law, undermines abortion rights, and broadly rescinds executive branch authority, tying President Obama’s hands and make it harder for him to govern.
But it’s reminiscent of a common process Republicans very recently decried as unprecedented and unconstitutional, until they retook the House and started using it fairly regularly.
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.