House GOP tries to force Senate's hand in spending-cut battle

House Republicans will take another symbolic shot at forcing the Senate’s hand in the budget battle by passing a bill Friday that they characterized as another attempt to avert a government shutdown.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Wednesday Republicans would pass legislation decreeing that, absent Senate passage of a budget bill by the April 8 deadline, the measure approved by the House in February would become “the law of the land.”

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The move appeared to be purely symbolic, because the Senate would have to approve $61 billion in spending cuts it has already rejected. The House-passed measure is not another stopgap, which Cantor ruled out on Tuesday.

Republicans described their plan, dubbed the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, as giving Democrats one last chance to keep the government running amid budget talks that are at impasse.

“We are serious,” Cantor told reporters after GOP leaders informed their conference of the plan on Wednesday morning. “We want to take care of this problem so we can get on with the business of this nation and get Americans back to work.”

He said the bill the House plans to consider would also prevent members of Congress from being paid in the event of a shutdown, which the Senate has already approved.

“It shows we are united. It shows we are serious,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. He acknowledged the bill was designed to “prod the Senate” to act.

Budget talks this week have devolved into partisan recriminations from both sides.

The GOP plan appeared to be hastily concocted, and aides could not immediately explain how their new bill would solve the crisis or whether they expected the Senate to approve it.

“That is a question for Leader [Harry] Reid [D-Nev.] and Senator [Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.], but 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,” Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said. “If they still fail to act, passing this bill would at least keep the government open.”