Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today introduced an updated version of their bipartisan Prevent Government Shutdowns Act. As Congress approaches the threat of a second government shutdown this year, Lankford and Hassan are joined by four of their Senate colleagues to push for this commonsense reform that protects federal employees and forces Congress to stay in DC to fund the government. If signed into law, the bill would set up an automatic Continuing Resolution (CR) at the current spending level until an agreement on funding is enacted. This will prevent a government-wide shutdown, continue critical services and operations for Americans, and hold federal workers harmless while Congress negotiates.
“The last 40 years, we’ve had 21 government shutdowns led by both parties—each one costing taxpayers billions of dollars and hurting federal employees,” said Lankford. “The plan is simple: End government shutdowns, while keeping the government open as Members of Congress, their staffs, and the Office of Management and Budget remain in Washington to finish appropriations bills. It’s time to hold Congress accountable for their most basic function and stop hurting federal families and taxpayers in another government shutdown.”
“Amidst the partisan gridlock that has too often led to costly, irresponsible government shutdowns, Republican Senator James Lankford and I have been pushing for a commonsense solution: If Congressional leadership cannot come together on a bipartisan spending bill to avert a shutdown, our bill provides automatic funding to keep the government’s doors from closing, and critically, Congress stays in Washington working until a deal is reached,” said Hassan. “We have seen time and time again the harmful effects that government shutdowns have on Granite Staters and Americans across the country. That’s why Senator Lankford and I came together to work on a measure to end government shutdowns, and I hope that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in supporting this bipartisan bill.”
Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Angus King (I-ME); Mike Enzi (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget; and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are original co-sponsors of the bill. Here’s what they have to say:
“We need to reduce the dysfunction in Washington. Government shutdowns hurt people, damage our economy and benefit no one. Politicians have talked for years about ending government shutdowns without taking action. With incentives for members of both parties to shape up, maybe we can start to make Washington work for the American people again,” said Johnson.
“When Washington’s dysfunction repeatedly hurts hardworking Americans, it’s clear that something needs to change,” said King. “We’ve seen the impacts of shutdowns too many times: families left struggling, local small businesses seeing stark declines in their traffic, and Americans scrambling to receive the federal services they rely on. We can fix this – let’s come together on a bipartisan basis and make government shutdowns a thing of the past.”
“Government shutdowns do not benefit anyone and actually end up costing taxpayers more money,” Enzi said. “This legislation would help hold Congress accountable while avoiding irresponsible funding lapses. It is time to end unnecessary government shutdowns for good.”
“Our federal workers and contractors can’t afford another shutdown, nor can our federal budget. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to end government shutdowns once and for all and ensure future budget disputes won’t threaten government services and operations,” said Kaine.
The bipartisan proposal is a simple solution to address the threat of government shutdowns. If federal funding is not in place through the enactment of all regular appropriations bills or a continuing resolution (CR) by October 1, no official travel will be allowed for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) leadership or staff and Members of Congress along with their committee and personal staff. During a period of lapsed appropriations, there will be:
Implementation of an automatic CR on October 1 at last year’s spending levels until passage of a law to appropriate all remaining lapsed spending for that fiscal year
No taxpayer-funded travel allowances for official business (except one return flight to Washington, DC)
No CODEL or STAFFDEL travel
No travel reimbursement (meals, per diem, or any type, including for state and district staff)
No use of campaign funds by congressional offices to supplement official duties or travel expenses
Expedited consideration of bipartisan appropriations bills is provided for after 30 days to ensure that each chamber is further incentivized to process spending bills and fund the government
No motions to recess or adjourn the Senate or House are in order for more than 23 hours
A required recorded quorum call vote is required each day at noon in the House and Senate to confirm attendance, which keeps Members in town for mandatory votes
No other matter can be considered on the floor of the Senate unless it relates to:
General appropriations measures (including a CR);
Daily mandatory quorum calls;
After 30 days, certain expiring authorization bills and executive calendar nominations would be eligible for consideration on the Senate floor. These include a nomination for a Justice of the Supreme Court or Cabinet Secretary; Reauthorization legislation for programs operating under an authorization which expired 60 days after the beginning of the fiscal year or less.
Floor restrictions in the House or Senate can be waived if a two-thirds majority vote threshold is achieved in each Chamber
The bill has an effective date of September 30, 2020.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), also recently penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in support of the bill.
Lankford released an episode of The Breakdown with James Lankford on the bill. Lankford and Hassan wrote an opinion piece on their simple, bipartisan legislation in July.
Lankford is a member of the Senate HSGAC Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.