The looming threat of yet another government shutdown — which would be the 21st since 1977 — has sparked renewed interest in proposed legislation that would bring such disruptions to an end. On Friday, Politico’s Burgess Everett reports, lawmakers in the House and the Senate were discussing a bill that would automatically fund the government if Congress fails to meet its budgetary deadline at the end of the fiscal year.
There is more than one plan floating around, but the leading candidate is a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, and James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, that has gained supporters on both sides of the aisle. Their bill would create automatic two-week funding bills once the new fiscal year arrives on October 1, if Congress has failed to act in time. Lawmakers in both chambers would be required to focus only on funding legislation from that point forward, until they can pass the necessary bills.
“It’s a longshot, but if passed it would amount to a permanent end to shutdown threats,” Everett says.
Supporters of the bill include Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, as well as independent Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Angus King. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said he was willing to end his delay on a group of funding bills earlier this week if he could get a vote on the Lankford-Hassan bill, but that effort went nowhere.
Not all lawmakers have embraced the legislation. Some see advantages in the political dynamics of shutdowns, which provide opportunities to push agendas that might otherwise fall by the wayside.
And this isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to fix the shutdown problem through legislation. “Maggie and I’ve been trying to be able to get this on the floor for five years, every time that there was a government shutdown,” Lankford told Politico. “Then after the shutdown is over, and we’ve gotten things resolved, people seem to move on to the next topic.”