Lankford Calls for a Vote on His Prevent Government Shutdowns Act
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on Rumble.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today called for a vote on the Senate floor of his Prevent Government Shutdowns Act, which would permanently take government shutdowns off the table and force Congress to stay in town until their work is done. He offered the bill as an amendment to the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (Milcon-VA), Agriculture-Food & Drug Administration, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development “minibus” appropriations bill. However, the amendment came up just short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass.
Lankford said in his remarks that our Armed Forces already in the Mediterranean and those currently packing to leave from Oklahoma to head to the Middle East should not have to set up contingency plans with their families back home for missing a paycheck if the government shuts down. He says we should be able to tell them that’s one thing they shouldn’t have to worry about.
Last month, Lankford spoke on the floor of the Senate to rally support for his bill to end government shutdowns, and he spoke on the Senate floor to outline the people who are most impacted by government shutdowns, including the Border Patrol agents who will not get paid and have an even bigger strain on their ability to secure the border.
We have the opportunity to take a really big step today that the entire country would pause and go, ‘Finally.’ We have the opportunity to end government shutdowns forever, to say, ‘That’s off the table.’ We as a nation don’t do government shutdowns.
Government shutdowns haven’t always been in our system. As a nation they really started in the 1980s, and we’ve had this repetitive cycle of government shutdowns over and over and over again. The American people and folks in my state in Oklahoma say, ‘How do we make this stop?’
Well this is how we make it stop.
Senator Hassan and I sat down five years ago and said, ‘Everyone wants to stop it, but we’ve never figured out a way there, a totally nonpartisan way. Let’s figure this out. What’s a nonpartisan way to end government shutdowns?’ So we sat down and worked on some language to try to figure out how to be able to do this.
We took input from Members all over this conference on both sides of the aisle. We actually sat down years ago with the Trump Administration and worked with their Office of Management and Budget and then have since sat down with the Biden Administration with their Office of Management and Budget to make sure the process would actually work, that it would actually be effective because we weren’t interested in having a messaging bill. We were interested in actually ending government shutdowns, that it would work.
The idea is really very simple: if Congress gets to the end of the fiscal year and the appropriations work is not done by the end of the year, we stay in session seven days a week. We can’t move to any bill other than appropriations until we actually finish appropriations.
If I can just make it just this simple: if we don’t finish our class work we have to stay after class. That’s all it is. In the meantime, the government continues to run at the previous year’s levels, that way federal workers are held harmless the American people are held harmless. The pressure is on the people that it should be on us.
Now, I’ve heard from some folks that this won’t work because the House is crazy, and they won’t care about staying here seven days a week because they’re crazy. Well I would respectfully say that House members—though definitely crazy at times—still love their families, still have responsibilities back in in their home district. They also want to be able to get back home. They’re not going to stay here seven days a week forever.
We do have other bills to be able to pass: the National Defense Authorization and thousands of other things that we still have to do, so the thought that we’d be in continual CRs both the House and Senate seven days a week and never leave and that we would never do other bills is just not realistic.
I’ve also heard that if we take away the threat of a government shutdown, we would lose the pressure point to be able to do appropriations. Well again respectfully I disagree. I don’t think federal law enforcement and Border Patrol agents, air traffic controllers, HUD staff, and millions of other federal workers and their families are leverage. They’re not leverage to be able to get appropriations work done. They’re families that just want to serve their neighbors and be able to get a paycheck for it.
Right now, right now there are thousands of Marines, Sailors, and Airmen that are currently in the Mediterranean on high alert. They should not have to make contingency plans for their family not to get a paycheck at the end of this month. Right now in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, there are soldiers that are packing equipment to leave and head to the Middle East—right now. They should not have to look at their loved ones before they leave and say, ‘In case checks don’t get deposited at the end of next month, here’s what to do.’ They should be able to go serve.
So as simple as I can say it: we shouldn’t say to them, ‘Maybe we won’t have a shutdown or probably we won’t have a shutdown.’ We should say, ‘Definitely we’re not going to have a shutdown. Thank you for serving our country.’ That’s what we should do.
The hardest thing in this body to change is the status quo. It’s the hardest thing to change. Today we have an opportunity to change the status quo and to begin the process of ending government shutdowns forever. I encourage my colleagues to join Senator Hassan and I and so many other folks from both sides of the aisle to say, ‘Let’s take a step forward, and let’s actually do our business.’