Democrats raise point of order against government shutdown bill

In the debate leading up to this procedural vote, Democrats derided Republicans for attempting to "deem" that House-approved budget cuts in H.R. 1 would become law if the Senate fails to act. Several Democrats said this is blatantly unconstitutional.

"Republican's partisan extremism reached a new low this week, with their willingness to ignore some of the most basic fundamentals of our Constitution," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). "I am outraged that Republicans could believe that their job-killing budget could become law with just the approval of the House of Representatives. Every American should be offended by such an extreme, reckless and clearly unconstitutional scheme."

Some, like Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), said Republican plans are appropriate given that it is April Fool's Day. "They're ignoring our founding document, mocking its principles, and attempting to circumvent 222 years of history," he said, adding that Republicans are hoping that H.R. 1 can "just become law, like magic."

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) defended the measure and said it is designed to put pressure on the White House and Congress to negotiate a spending agreement. "It gives the Senate an opportunity to come out from under its paralyzing inaction and pass H.R. 1, and it says that if the Senate does not, if the Senate fails to act … that Congress will not get paid," Woodall said.

But Senate Republicans have acknowledged that the bill is essentially posturing, because House passage of a bill declaring that H.R. 1 is now law means nothing without Senate approval. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said without a broad agreement between the White House and Congress, "we're just whistling in the wind," and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said no budget would become law without Senate approval.