Lankford Gives Eerily Familiar Floor Speech about His Solution to Take Shutdowns Off the Table, as Congress Nears Another Funding Deadline
Lankford: “You get to the end of the fiscal year, whatever that may be, if we have not finished all of the appropriations work, we continue working until it gets done.”
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today gave remarks the Senate chamber has now heard several times before, as he pressed for his bipartisan solution to take government shutdowns off the table when Congress fails to come to an agreement on spending bills—a precipice Congress is once again nearing as the Friday, December 18 deadline to fund the government nears. Lankford raised the issue of his bill, the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act, when Congress passed the Continuing Resolution to bring us to last week’s deadline back in September, and he pressed for the bill on the Senate floor.
This all feels strangely familiar. It's the middle of December, facing a government shutdown, arguing behind the scenes over the final details, discussing whether we're going to do a short-term CR, wondering what's going to happen, everyone has the sense if we don't get the bill done by tomorrow we're going to end up in shutdown and all the problems that that causes. Senator Hassan and I stand in the back and hold up our hand and say in February of last year, we proposed a solution to this that fits this exact scenario to keep us from holding federal workers and all of our agencies in harm's way. The ending government shutdowns bill is designed for this moment. And for whatever reason, we have not been able to agree to pass it.
It's a process document. It doesn't solve all the policy issues we have, we have real policy differences, but we should not have process differences on moments like this. It is not good for the American people. It is not good for the United States Senate or the United States Congress to stand at the precipice of a shutdown and to say, maybe we go over, maybe we don't, maybe we have a short-term CR, maybe we pass the 12 appropriation bills. We shouldn't ever get to that moment.
Our simple idea—that is not a partisan idea—that Senator Hassan and I released was a simple, straightforward idea. You get to the end of the fiscal year, whatever that may be, if we have not finished all of the appropriation work, we continue working until it gets done. An automatic continuing resolution kicks in so federal worker is worried that we are going to have furloughs right before Christmas. No agency is panicked next about how do who to furlough or keep and who is essential and who is nonessential. None of that happens. None of that waste occurs. We continue debating until we resolve that issue. That's all that it is.
We have 12 appropriation bills that are not done. Painfully in this year of COVID, there have only been 22 total appropriation hearings in 12 months, 22. That's 12 appropriation committees, 12 months, only 22 hearings total for all of them. We've not completed the appropriation work on time. So, now we're struggling with the what if's?
Senator Hassan and I have a straightforward idea. Let's pass the end government shutdowns bill, let's continue our negotiations so we don't have to be in the shadow of a shutdown again next year. It's doable. It shouldn't be controversial. It should be obvious. When we get to our time period like this, if we're not complete, we keep working until it's done. In the meantime, we don't leave. It's the exact statement I’ve heard from everybody in the Chamber so far today. We need to stay until it's done. I agree that should be the process every time we get to this moment. We stay until the work gets done. Our bill just mandates that and it keeps us from ever having to say the word shutdown again.
So, I would encourage this body, again, as I did all last year, as I did all of this year. As I did all of this year. Let's end government shutdowns. Let's keep debating the policy. We have differences, we know that, but let's end the thought of government shutdowns.
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