September 26, 2013

Portman Introduces Amendment Ensuring Budget Caps Continue Despite Washington's Dysfunction

Bill Keeps Government Running; Prevents Haphazard, Last-Minute Budget Deals

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced an amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) that will ensure the budget caps put in place by the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 are continued as Washington’s dysfunction threatens to leave us with two bad options – a government shutdown or Democrat efforts to break the first multi-year budget caps agreed to since the 1990s, which would add nearly $100 billion to FY 2014 spending. The legislation was first introduced in July of 2012, and was reintroduced in this Congress in January of this year, aimed at preventing last-minute budget deals that fail to address our out-of-control spending, as well ending the threat to cut off essential federal government services. The amendment creates an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill, lessening the chance of last-minute, budget-busting bills being forced through against the threat of a government shutdown, while ensuring we keep cutting Washington’s out of control spending.

“It’s no wonder that Congress is so unpopular these days.  Over the past four years, the White House and Congress have not completed a single appropriations bill on time.  Even worse, the Senate has passed only one out of the last 48 appropriations bills on time under Majority Leader Reid’s leadership.  Although this Democrat-controlled Senate continually fails to pass appropriations bills by the October 1st deadline, Americans should not have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over their heads," said Portman.  “This legislation ensures the federal government continues to provide the necessary services to its citizens while protecting against the panic and pressure of last-minute budget deals, allowing Congress to make the decisions necessary to get Washington’s fiscal house back in order.”

Since 1997, Congress has failed to pass its regular appropriations bills by the October 1st deadline, which has caused rushed budget agreements, the threat of government shutdowns, and unpredictability for government agencies and the people who rely on them.  In 2011, Congress barely reached a midnight-hour agreement to avoid full government shutdown.

The End Government Shutdowns Act creates an automatic CR for any regular appropriations bill not completed by October 1.  After the first 120 days, CR funding would be reduced by 1 percentage point, and would continue to be reduced by that margin every 90 days.  Similar to H.R. 3583, authored by Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) in the last Congress, this bill gives Congress until January before the first automatic cuts would occur, in order to give lawmakers time to negotiate.

The End Government Shutdowns Act addresses a number of critical issues:

• No more government shutdowns to create chaos for citizens who depend on federal services.
• Less unpredictability for government agencies, which will be able to plan their budgets based on a default appropriations level.
• Reduced pressure for haphazard, last-minute budget deals that lawmakers are asked to vote on before they have even read them.
• Lawmakers will have until January to complete the appropriations bills before funding levels change.
• After 120 days, the gradual decline in funding levels will ensure that lawmakers and the White House continue working toward an agreement.
• All discretionary spending is treated equally. There are no exceptions for liberal or conservative spending priorities. This will keep both sides eager to reach a final agreement in order to preserve their respective priorities.

Portman last introduced the End Government Shutdowns Act (S.29) in January 2013 and was joined by 20 cosponsors.