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House plans symbolic budget vote as pressure on Senate mounts

From NBC's Shawna Thomas and Carrie Dann
With frustration mounting at the Senate’s failure to pass a long-term federal budget bill, House Republicans are planning another symbolic vote this week in the attempt to force the upper chamber to propose a viable plan to keep the government open beyond an April 8th funding deadline.

AP

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and others look on as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill today.

The House is expected to pass their newly-touted  “Government Shutdown Prevention Act” - essentially a repackaging of H.R.1, the $61-billion in spending cuts already passed by the House - this week. The new bill would also add a provision that would prevent members of Congress from being paid during a federal shutdown, a proposal originally made and passed by Senate Democrats.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said passing this new version of the bill "will say to the American people [that] the Senate's got to act prior to the expiration of the [current continuing resolution.]  If it does not act, H.R. 1 becomes the law of the land ... it reiterates, again, the deadline." 

(During the announcement of the new/old bill, the circling press questioned how this could become "law of the land" if the Senate already rejected H.R.1 and is sure to do so again. Cantor's office put out a statement that read in part, "We are hopeful that this proposal will urge the Senate to act instead of play politics with a shutdown. Funding the government at the levels passed by House Republicans might not be what Senator Reid wants, but surely even he would agree that it's a better alternative than shutting down the government.")

Symbolic votes aside, the GOP’s exasperation with the Democratically-controlled Senate's lack of momentum appears to be at a boiling point with just over a week left to cut a deal.

“Pass the damn thing, alright?” House Speaker John Boehner urged Senate leaders in a press conference Wednesday. “And send it over here and let's have real negotiations.”

Boehner accused President Barack Obama, who has largely deferred to Congress in the budget negotiations, of abdicating a leadership role in the erratic budget talks.

Asked if he had an idea of what kind of bill the president would agree to sign, Boehner said, "No. No way.  I have no clue."

Cantor added, "The President is M.I.A. on this issue."

Off camera, the Boehner's office has confirmed that GOP leaders and the White House have been in discussions but hs not provided any concrete numerical cuts that are being discussed or the status of the controversial policy riders that are contained in H.R. 1.