As Congress Nears November 21 Deadline, Portman Calls for Action on Legislation to End Government Shutdowns
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee business meeting, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) discussed his efforts to end government shutdowns and urged his colleagues to join him in passing legislation to do so. As chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Portman released a bipartisan report detailing the combined costs of the past three federal shutdowns. These three shutdowns, totaling 54 days of partial or full government closure, caused furloughed workers to lose a combined 56,938 years of productivity, and cost taxpayers at least $4 billion in back pay and other associated costs. The report was the result of a nine-month investigation by the Subcommittee, which started in the wake of the most recent government shutdown in winter of 2018 —which was also the longest shutdown in American history. During the most recent shutdown, which lasted 35 days, Senator Portman reintroduced legislation which he has introduced the last five Congresses, the End Government Shutdowns Act. This Act would permanently prevent further government shutdowns by enabling automatic continuing resolutions that maintain government funding at current levels, in the event that an appropriations bill or an existing continuing resolution elapses.
A transcript of his remarks is below and a video of his questioning can be found here:
“I think government shutdowns are stupid and that’s why for the past five Congresses I’ve introduced the End Government Shutdowns Act and it has 34 cosponsors. For four of those five Congresses, it was bipartisan. More recently that has been more difficult to achieve and ours is very simple, it puts pressure on appropriators by actually reducing spending one percent after 120 days and then after every 90 days one percent more. I think it is one that would provide adequate incentive, however, the Democrats are not interested in that particular incentive anymore, in fact, the Democrats offered their own proposal which Senator Warner has introduced with a few cosponsors which actually increases spending when there’s a shutdown. As a percent of GDP, so whatever the GDP growth would be what the increase would be which is usually above inflation. So, Republicans aren’t interested in that so Senator Peters and I introduced a bill that says, ‘Okay let’s find a middle ground here,’ which is to not have a cut in spending or an increase in spending and that’s been Rule 14. It’s on the desk, ready to go, if leadership chooses to move forward with it. Look, I’m encouraged by all the conversation. I think it’s great. I think there’s a growing consensus now. I don’t think there’s a Republican or Democrat in this place who can say that shutdowns are a good idea.”