House Democrats rally behind bill co-sponsored by Rep. Daines

2013-10-08T10:30:00Z 2013-10-10T17:51:04Z House Democrats rally behind bill co-sponsored by Rep. DainesBy TOM LUTEY tlutey@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Attempting to force an end to the federal government shutdown, House Democrats are dusting off a March bill proposed by Montana Rep. Steve Daines and other Republicans that doesn’t defund Obamacare.

In March, Daines co-sponsored The Government Shutdown Prevention Act, a bill that requires the government to remain open if the Congress fails to pass a budget by the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30.

The bill calls for short-term funding to be automatically triggered for 120 days. Government funding would have to be cut one percent for every short-term deal that followed until a budget passed. The bill, HR 1164, funded the government, but left Obamacare alone.

The government shut down at midnight Oct. 1 after House Republicans refused to fund the government without also delaying Obamacare and repealing taxes on medical equipment.

The Government Shutdown Prevention Act never received a hearing, but Democrats are now circulating a petition to bring it to the House floor, a move that would require all 200 Democratic signatures plus signatures from 18 Republicans. So far, Republican House Speaker John Boehner has refused to take up government funding legislation that skips the Obamacare caveat. Boehner could not stop the petitioned bill.

Daines wants no part of the Democrats’ petition.

“The short answer to that is, like many things, it’s a political gimmick,” said Alee Lockman, Daines' spokeswoman.

The Government Shutdown Prevention Act was an attempt to avoid government shutdowns, which Daines supports, Lockman said. But being forced to the House floor by the minority party, the bill doesn’t stand a chance. The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., also opposes the Democrats’ petition.

The bill's intent is to avoid a shutdown, Lockman said. With the 2013 fiscal year over, the legislation, if enacted as written, wouldn't kick in until Sept. 30, 2014.

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