Keeping government open

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Portman introduces bill to prevent government shutdown

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, issued a statement on Monday announcing that he has once again introduced a bill to prevent government shutdowns.

The End Government Shutdowns Act would create a continuing resolution automatically for any regular appropriations bill or existing continuing resolution, to keep the federal government open and, as Portman’s statement read, “reducing the chance of last-minute, budget-busting bills being forced through Congress.”

The act would create a continuing resolution for any regular appropriations not completed by the first of October. After 120 days, the funding for the continuing resolution would be reduced by one percent. Every 90 days afterward, funding would be decreased by an additional one percent, until Congress completes the annual appropriations.

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“Almost everybody hates government shutdowns,” Portman said. “They don’t accomplish anything. They don’t get our fiscal house in order and they disrupt critical government programs that have a big impact on people’s lives. As leverage in a political negotiation, they are fool’s gold. We should end government shutdowns for good. My legislation would do that, giving federal workers and their families more stability, providing lawmakers with more time to make smarter decisions for taxpayers, and ensuring we avoid disruptions that ultimately hurt our economy and working families.”

The latest concern about a government shutdown comes as Democrats and Republicans quarrel over funding priorities in the coming year. Disagreements include how much to dedicate to defense spending versus domestic programs, funding President Trump’s proposed border wall, and the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans in Congress want to increase military spending above the existing cap, insisting it is an emergency, while Democrats want more money for education, medical research, and environmental programs.

The border wall was one of Trump’s major campaign promises, and one he promised that Mexico would pay for. However with Mexico’s insistence that they will not fund the wall, Trump and Republicans are seeking funding through Congress, a move that Democratic leadership has called a non-starter.

Some Republicans are also seeking to end coverage under the Affordable Care Act by cutting subsidies to insurance companies that fund state marketplaces, but Democrats have promised to block any bill that doesn’t continue those payments.

Even some Republicans, such as Portman, support keeping the ACA solvent until a suitable replacement can be crafted that preserves funding for mental health care and recovery treatment.

Portman has introduced legislation to prevent government shutdowns in every Congress since his 2010 election to the Senate.