House passes symbolic bill to spur budget debate

The House passed a bill today that would make an earlier House-passed fiscal 2011 appropriations bill law if the Senate does not approve a spending bill by April 6. It would also prohibit members of Congress and the president from getting paid if there is more than a 24-hour lapse in appropriations for any federal agency.

The bill is seen largely as symbolic, because it too would need Senate approval.

Democrats strongly opposed the measure and questioned the constitutionality of the "force of law" bill (H.R. 1255), which passed by a vote of 221-202, according to The Hill. Funding for the government under the current continuing resolution expires April 8.

“If the House has not received a message from the Senate before April 6, 2011, stating that it has passed a measure providing for the appropriations for the departments and agencies of the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, the provisions of H.R. 1, as passed by the House on February 19, 2011, are hereby enacted into law,” the legislation passed today states.

The deep spending cuts included in H.R. 1 were rejected by Senate Democrats, and President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill if it reached his desk.

Obama said today a government shutdown would hurt the nation’s economic recovery, and he believes congressional leaders from both parties are close to reaching an agreement on how much spending should be cut.

“We know that both sides are close; we know that a compromise is within reach,” Obama said during remarks in Landover, Md., The Hill reports. “And we also know that if these budget negotiations break down, it could shut down the government and jeopardize our economic recovery.”

Vice President Joe Biden met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Democratic leaders earlier this week to discuss the fiscal 2011 budget and told reporters later that good progress had been made.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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