Legislation Introduced to Permanently End Government Shutdowns

Legislation has been reintroduced that aims to put an end to government shutdowns for good.

Apparently fed up with the ongoing partial government shutdown, a group of Republican Senators have introduced a bill that is designed to bring a permanent end to them.

The End Government Shutdowns Act (S. 104) was introduced by Rob Portman (R-OH) and has the following co-sponsors (as of the time of this writing): Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

It would achieve its goal by creating an automatic continuing resolution (CR) for any regular appropriations bill or existing CR not completed by the October 1 deadline. After the first 120 days, CR funding will be reduced by one percent and would be reduced by one percent again every 90 days thereafter until Congress does its job and completes the annual appropriations process.

“It’s disappointing that both sides didn’t resolve this matter weeks ago. Shutdowns inevitably costs taxpayers more money once the government reopens. I hope that both parties come together and reach an agreement that brings a resolution to this issue as quickly as possible,” Portman said. “Moving forward, we should end government shutdowns for good. This bipartisan legislation will accomplish that goal, providing lawmakers with more time to reach a responsible resolution to budget negotiations, giving federal workers and their families more stability, and ensuring we avoid disruptions that ultimately hurt our economy, taxpayers and working families.”

It is not the first time the bill has been introduced. Portman has introduced the bill in each session of Congress of which he has been a Member, last introduced in April 2017. It has never passed before, but perhaps the length of the current shutdown will increase the likelihood that it will pass this time around.

Who Invented Government Shutdowns?

The concept of a government “shutdown” is relatively new and did not exist before 1980. They have become used as a political weapon where both parties spar over some issue and threaten to withhold funding for agencies, hoping the other side will cave. Prior to that time, there were occasions when money had not been appropriated, but federal employees still went to work, still got paid (usually a little late until funds were approved) and the situation was resolved without all the political drama we enjoy with shutdowns today.

As FedSmith author Ralph Smith noted in a previous article, Benjamin Civiletti., the attorney general under President Jimmy Carter, is credited for inventing the concept of the modern shutdown. It is based on an interpretation of an 1870 law. For details, see Who Invented Government Shutdowns?.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.