09.14.21

Cassidy, Lankford Lead Push to End Government Shutdowns, Hold Congress Accountable

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) joined Senators James Lankfrod (R-OK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and seven colleagues to introduce the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act of 2021, which would take government shutdowns off the table by setting up an automatic continuing resolution (CR) if government funding has not been enacted on time and requiring Congress to stay in town until the job is done. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Angus King (I-ME), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) also cosponsored the bill. 

“Louisianans are recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and the last thing we need is for the government to shut down and not be in a position to help those trying to recover,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This is a commonsense solution to make sure our government continues functioning.”

“As our national debt climbs dangerously higher and Congress continues to ignore the tough spending decisions, forcing Congress to stay in DC is the most effective way to get Congress back to actually putting in the work to fund the government in a timely way,” said Senator Lankford. “Shutdowns cost taxpayer dollars, hurt federal employees and their families, and threaten our national security. Oklahomans expect Congress to do their job, keep the federal government functioning, prevent overspending, and hold Congress accountable for doing what they’re supposed to do. I will push to see serious consideration of our practical and commonsense solution to end shutdowns.” 

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

Background

Although federal funding runs out on September 30, Congress has failed to pass any of the 12 annual bills, which once again means we face a possible government shutdown or another continuing resolution that fails to take into account what we actually need as a nation.

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 signed by the president. This will prevent a government-wide shutdown, continue critical services and operations for Americans, and hold federal workers harmless while Congress finishes its job.

Bill Details

Upon a lapse in government funding, the bill would implement an automatic continuing resolution, 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 continuing resolution, 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 delegation 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. 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. Lastly, the bill ensures Congress is not under floor and travel restrictions after they get the job done and are awaiting 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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