Cantor Suggests Deadline Will Lapse Before Deal To Avoid Government Shutdown

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested Tuesday he doubts the spending cut fight will be resolved before funding for the government expires on April 8. If he’s right, either some emergency legislation will need to pass to keep the lights on, or the government will shut down, he said.

Asked at his weekly Capitol briefing whether he’d be prepared to expedite passage of a bipartisan spending deal if one is reached, Cantor objected to the premise. “I don’t know that that hypothetical is even applicable, given where we are in the current negotiations,” he said. “I don’t think that that’s even a likelihood and that there would be some need for a bridge to get there.”There’s still a few days until current funding expires on Friday. But House rules require that legislation be posted online for 72 hours before it comes to the floor for a vote. That means any grand deal to fund the government for six months — or any last-minute emergency legislation to prevent of shutdown — would require the House to violate its rules.

After the briefing, Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring told reporters that leadership is keeping all options open. He called this week a “unique week,” and suggested the GOP might reluctantly bypass their rules if a deal is at hand.

According to Cantor, that’s not likely. But Cantor’s been playing bad cop in these negotiations. Last week he insisted it was a choice betweent deal or no deal — no punting. So it’s important to keep that in mind when digesting his comments.