Senators Lankford, Ernst, Perdue Call for No Recess without a Budget

WASHINGTON, DC – Following years of Congress’ repeated ineffectiveness to responsibly fund the federal government on time, Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and David Perdue (R-GA), introduced legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from leaving Washington if we fail to pass a budget on time.

“If the government shuts down due to congressional dysfunction and failure to agree on spending bills, Members of the Senate and House, the President, and his Cabinet should not be allowed to leave DC,” said Lankford. “If we want to really put the pressure on Congress to take action on funding, we should prevent Members from going home or traveling during pre-scheduled ‘recess weeks,’ which would encourage Congress to actually have those tough conversations about spending. Just as Americans expect us to, we need to stay until the job is done. We are on day 26 of the longest-ever government shutdown, and yet Congress is about to go home for the weekend, with some Members flying out of the country. The proposal that we offer today would keep Congress in town until the budget is finally resolved. During a government shutdown, Congress and the White House should experience pain, not the American people.”

“Hardworking Iowans, and Americans across the country, are sick and tired of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions and massive omnibus spending bills. This dysfunctional cycle is not the way our government was designed to function or should function. If we fail to pass a budget and spending bills, we should stay in town and work together until we get the job done,” said Ernst. 

“Congress should be held to the same standards of people in the real world,” said Perdue. “Washington’s broken funding process has created a dysfunctional cycle of continuing resolutions, last-minute spending deals, and government shutdowns. Enough is enough. It’s time to create a politically neutral platform to fund the government on time every year, including real consequences for Members of Congress if they don’t get the entire job done. We should not go home until we have completed our work. Period.” 

The No Budget, No Recess Act would prohibit Members of Congress from leaving Washington if we fail to pass a budget by April 15 or approve regular spending bills by August 1. This means that Congress would be unable to adjourn for the August state work period—commonly referred to as “recess”—until work is completed. 

Congress is supposed to fund the government by October 1—the first day of the new fiscal year. However, since 1976, Congress has only funded the government on time four times. Instead, Congress usually relies on temporary funding extensions called “continuing resolutions,” which are wasteful and create uncertainty. Worse yet, there have been 21 government shutdowns since 1976.

Additional Background

Under the No Budget, No Recess Act, if both the House and Senate have not approved a budget by April 15 or passed all appropriations bills by August 1, then:

  • Congress would not be able to adjourn for more than eight hours.
  • No funds would be available for official travel.
  • Two quorum calls would be held per day to ensure that Members of Congress cannot leave Washington.

Congress’ dysfunctional budget process by the numbers:

  • $22 trillion: The U.S. is nearly $22 trillion in debt.
  • $1 trillion: U.S. budget deficits are projected to exceed $1 trillion in coming years.
  • 21 Shutdowns Or Funding Lapses: Since 1976, funding battles have shut down the government or caused funding gaps 21 times, costing billions in retroactive pay and lost economic output.
  • 1996: The last time that Congress funded the government on time was 1996 – over 20 years ago.
  • 11 budgets in 20 years: Congress has passed a budget resolution only 11 times in the past 20 years, and has passed all appropriations bills only four times since 1976.
  • 5 Continuing Resolutions: Since 1999, Congress has passed an average of five continuing resolutions per year, creating constant uncertainty for federal agencies, grantees and others who rely on federal funding.
  • $4 billion in waste: Our reliance on continuing resolutions has forced the Department of Defense to ground or underfund dozens of programs and has, for example, resulted in $4 billion in waste for the Navy since 2011.