Jan 11 2019
It should never have come to this. Today is the 21st day of the government shutdown, tying the record for the longest federal government shutdown in history. And there is no sign that the shutdown will end.
This shutdown is bad for federal workers who will be missing their first paycheck today. 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.
This particular shutdown is also bad for our national security since everyone agrees that more resources are needed on our southern border to help address what even The Washington Post has admitted is a “crisis” on our southern border.
The number of migrants flooding into our country at our southern border to claim asylum has simply overwhelmed our law enforcement capabilities. We need more Border Patrol agents. We need more emergency medical technicians. We need more immigration judges. And, yes, we need more wall.
Building wall is a proven strategy to lower border crossings. President Clinton built hundreds of miles of wall on the southern border. So did President Bush. So did President Obama. Walls work.
We should have voted on a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that funded these border security priorities months ago. We should have voted on a bill to fund the Agriculture Department and the Internal Revenue Service. But we didn’t.
Instead we abandoned our job to pass individual appropriations bills and instead waited until the last minute to pass a Continuing Resolution that would have kept the full government funded, but only through February 8.
This governing-by-cliff has unfortunately become the status quo in Washington. The fact is, Congress has not completed all twelve regular appropriations bills by the October 1st deadline since 1997, and between 1985 and 1997, this important budget marker has only been met twice.
Instead we’ve been governed by a quilt work of Continuing Resolutions, Omnibuses, and rushed budget agreements, many of which are held until the last minute so lawmakers are unable to read their contents in full. The result is instability and unpredictability not only in our government organizations, but also for the many families and businesses that interact with the federal government.
We should end government shutdowns for good. That is why I co-sponsored Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) End Government Shutdowns Act this week. The bill would create an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill not completed before existing spending authority ran out. Spending would then continue at existing levels for the first 120 days before reducing across the board by 1% for every 90 days after that. All discretionary spending would be treated equally; no partisan carve-outs and no exceptions.
This legislation is a necessary balance between incentivizing good budgeting habits while also discouraging last-minute, haphazard stopgap funding measures. And most importantly to the families of Americans, it provides stability and predictability by ending government shutdowns forever.