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To read more about Senator Lankford’s border security policy proposal, CLICK HERE.

Lankford, Hassan, Colleagues Want to Stop Government Shutdowns, Force Congress to Do Its Job

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) was joined by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and their colleagues to reintroduce the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act of 2023, which would take government shutdowns off the table and force Congress to stay in town until their work is done.

“We need to change our spending and our spending process. Our national debt is now skyrocketing past $31.5 trillion, and Congress continues to ignore the tough decisions to stop our debt from continuing to spiral out of control,” said Lankford. “Shutting down the government does not solve the problem. It creates new problems. But currently there are very limited methods to focus Congress on the national debt. Forcing Congress to stay in DC until the budget work is done is the most effective way to get Congress to actually get the government funded on time. This is a commonsense non-partisan solution to put the pressure on lawmakers instead of hurting federal families and services during a shutdown.”

“Government shutdowns waste taxpayer dollars and put our nation at risk, and we need to avoid them whenever possible,” said Hassan. “This commonsense bill incentivizes Congress to fund the government on time and ensures that there is a plan in place to protect families and our economy if Congress cannot come to agreement.”

Lankford and Hassan are joined in introducing the bill by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Angus King (I-ME), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ). 

The Prevent Government Shutdowns Act is supported by the following groups: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity, America First Policy Institute, and Americans for Tax Reform.

Background

Introduced initially in February 2019, the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act requires that if appropriations work is not done on time, all Members of Congress must stay in Washington, DC, and work until the spending bills are completed. This will prevent a government-wide shutdown, continue critical services and operations for Americans, and hold federal workers harmless while Congress completes appropriations. 

Upon a lapse in government funding, the bill would implement an automatic continuing resolution (CR), on rolling 14-day periods, based on the most current spending levels enacted in the previous fiscal year. This would prevent a shutdown and continue critical services and operations.

During the covered period of an automatic CR, the following restrictions are put in place:

  • No taxpayer-funded travel allowances for official business (except one flight to return to Washington, DC) for the following:
    • White House OMB staff and leadership
    • Members of the House and Senate
    • Committee and personal staff of the House and Senate
  • No official funds may be used for CODEL or STAFFDEL travel
  • No use of campaign funds by congressional offices to supplement official duties or travel expenses
  • No motions to recess or adjourn in the House/Senate for a period or more than 23 hours

In addition, under the bill, no other votes would be in order in the House and Senate unless they pertain to passage of the appropriations bills or mandatory quorum calls in the Senate. However, after 30 days under the automatic CR, certain expiring authorization bills and executive calendar nominations would be eligible for consideration on the Senate floor, including a nomination for a Justice of the Supreme Court or a Cabinet Secretary, and narrow reauthorization legislation for programs operating under an authorization that has already expired or will expire within the next 30 days.

These restrictions can be waived by a two-thirds vote in either chamber but not for longer than seven days. Additionally, the bill provides for expedited consideration of bipartisan funding bills if appropriations have not been enacted after 30 days after the start of the fiscal year. This further incentivizes Congress to process bipartisan spending bills and fund the government on time. The bill ensures Congress is not under floor and travel restrictions after they get the job done and await the president’s signature. However, if the president vetoes any funding bills, the restrictions on congressional travel and floor consideration are re-imposed.

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