House Republicans who promised to restore a rigid interpretation of the Constitution were accused Friday of attempting some constitutional gymnastics.
With GOP leaders locked in a budget stalemate with Senate Democrats, the House tried to ramp up the pressure by passing the Government Shutdown Prevention Act.
A portion of the bill sought to ensure that lawmakers and the president have their paychecks cutoff, just like other federal employees, if the two sides failed to reach a budget deal before an April 8 deadline. The provision was similar to one that already passed the Senate.
The rest of the bill was less conventional.
Another section tried to revive a House spending plan that was killed by the Senate last month. Under the resolution passed Friday, the dead bill would come back to life and become law, without the president’s signature, if the Senate does not pass a bill funding the government for the rest of the 2011. The Senate would need to act by Wednesday.
The bill was an attempt to draw attention to the fact that House Republicans have passed a spending plan, while the Senate has not. (The Senate held votes on both a Democratic proposal and the Republican proposal, and both died.)
The Senate is not likely to take up the bill.
“What we’re trying to do with this resolution today is get our business done,” said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).
But Democrats used the bill as an invitation to mock Republicans’ creative legislative process. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) brought to the House floor a copy of “House Mouse, Senate Mouse,” a children’s book on how a bill becomes a law that is sold in the House gift shop.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) came to the floor with a drawing of the “Bill” character from the Saturday morning cartoon “Schoolhouse Rock.”
“My friends know how a bill becomes a law. What we’re doing here is symbolism,” Hastings said. “We’re wasting our time on a patently unconstitutional measure.”
The measure found some trouble from within the Republican conference. It passed the House by a vote of 221-202. Fifteen Republicans voted against it.