The House on Friday passed a symbolic measure aimed at pressuring the Senate to approve a government-funding bill before the law currently keeping the government running expires at the end of next week.
The measure, dubbed the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act” by House Republican leaders, passed on a 221-to-202 vote. Fifteen Republicans joined all Democrats present in voting against it, and one Republican, Rep. Blake Farenthold (Texas), voted “present.”
Republicans have contended that the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act,” if passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed by the president, would enact into law the $61 billion in cuts already approved by the House two months ago provided that the Senate doesn’t pass its own funding bill by next week.
Democrats have countered that that provision would be unconstitutional, as any bill must pass both chambers and be signed by the president to become law.
Moreover, the Senate already rejected the $61 billion in cuts in a vote last month. Democrats charged that Friday’s bill amounted to little more than political theater as leaders in both chambers continue the real work of negotiating with the White House on a budget plan.
The measure, which stands little chance of progressing in the Senate, also would dock the pay of members of Congress and the president for any period during which the government is forced to shut down.
Staffers for the White House and leaders in both chambers will continue to work over the weekend toward a budget agreement ahead of an April 8 deadline. Time is running short, though, and any eventual compromise would have to be brought to the House floor early next week in order for the lower chamber to have time to consider it before sending it over to the Senate.
The fifteen Republicans breaking ranks with their party to vote against against Friday’s measure were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Dan Lungren (Calif.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Reid Ribble (Wis.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.).