Proposed bill would end government shutdowns for good

Jan 15, 2019, 1:36 PM
End Government Shutdowns Act...
People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

An old bill to end government shutdowns is getting new press as our nation struggles through what is now the longest government shutdown in history.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has proposed his “End Government Shutdowns Act” every chance he’s had since he was elected in 2010.

Until now, the bill has been all but ignored; but with a new urgency behind it, the bill is seeing new life and vocal new supporters, including Utah’s own Sen. Mike Lee, also a Republican.

How the End Government Shutdowns Act works

Sen. Mike Lee

File photo of Sen. Mike Lee. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)

Portman’s plan is simple. If Congress can’t agree on a budget, instead of shutting down the federal government, his bill would just keep the old budget in effect.

Any failure to pass a spending bill, if the End Government Shutdowns Act passes, would automatically trigger a continuing resolution that would have all government spending continue at existing levels for the next 120 days.

If, after the first 120 days, Congress still couldn’t pass a spending bill, funding would be reduced by one percent. That penalty would apply again for every 90 days after that.

It’s not an altogether new idea, and it’s been supported by a number of Republican lawmakers for some time. In fact, Sen. Lee formally co-sponsored the bill back on April 24, 2017, when Portman first submitted the bill to the Senate.

In the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, however, Lee has started promoting the bill with new fervor, taking to the internet and the press to criticize the shutdown and promote the End Government Shutdowns Act.

“This shutdown is bad for federal workers,” Lee says on his website. “It is bad for federal contractors that do business with the federal government. And it is bad for everyone who has to deal with the uncertainty of whether or not government agencies will be providing the services they are charged to deliver.”

By allowing the shutdown to happen, Lee says, Congress “abandoned [their] job.”

In his open letter, he calls for them to pass Portman’s bill, saying that it “provides stability and predictability by ending government shutdowns forever.”

Lee is only one of several senators who have supported Portman’s bill. It is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley, Steve Daines, Johnny Isakson, Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Jim Risch, and Lisa Murkowski.

Dave & Dujanovic weigh in

Would the End Government Shutdowns Act actually make the process better – or could this be a huge step in the wrong direction?

That’s the question that came up on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic today, where co-host Dave Noriega asked: “Does this provide cover for Congress when they don’t agree or does it force them to go back to the negotiation table?”

Listen to what he and Debbie Dujanovic had to say about it on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Proposed bill would end government shutdowns for good