Updated 1:13 p.m. Eastern Time
Eric Cantor, a member of the House Republican leadership, suggested this morning that the House will pass a measure mandating that a House spending bill will become law if the Senate does not pass a spending bill of its own by next week.
How would that happen? Well, it won't. But Republicans are trying to put pressure on Democrats to pass their legislation to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur on April 8 if the parties cannot work out a deal.
Cantor said the House will take up the bill, which is called the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, on Friday. It will require that a House-passed spending bill, H.R.1, will become law in the absence of a Senate spending bill. H.R.1 includes $61 billion in spending cuts as well as controversial policy riders like the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
The Government Shutdown Prevention Act "reiterates again the deadline and that the Senate should act before the deadline," Cantor told reporters on Wednesday. "The bill then says if the Senate does not act, then H.R. 1 will be the law of the land. In addition to that, it says if all else fails and the Senate brings about a shutdown then members should not get their pay."
A summary of the Government Shutdown Prevention Act says "that if the Senate fails to pass a measure before April 6, 2011 providing for the appropriations of the departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, H.R. 1 (as passed by the House on February 19, 2011) becomes law."
It also says that "in the event of a government shutdown in excess of 24 hours or the limitation on the debt of the United States being reached, no salary payments will be disbursed to Members of Congress or the President for days on which that condition persists."
It's important to note that for any of this to happen, the Senate would have to pass the Government Shutdown Prevention Act -- and the odds of that are pretty much zero. (It would then have to overcome a presidential veto, another seeming impossibility.) Cantor's spokeswoman Laena Fallon said in a statement that "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."
House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Wednesday that the measure indicated the GOP's seriousness about passing a budget.
"We're serious, we want to take care of this problem so we can get about the business of this nation and get American's back to work," he said.
"Pass the damn thing, alright!" Boehner added, referring to a long-term spending bill. "And send it over here and let's have real negotiations. Instead of sitting over there rooting for a government shutdown."