After a record-breaking thirty-five day government shutdown that cost the US economy an estimated $11 billion, Congress has an opportunity to prevent future shutdowns from ever occurring. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have called for the passage of legislation to sustain current federal funding levels during congressional budgeting impasses. A bill from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) would keep government funding at current levels, except for any funding for the legislative branch and the White House. Republican lawmakers have also proposed anti shutdown legislation, however Warner’s bill is the only one that freezes congress’s pay during budget disagreements.
In the House, Reps. Golden (R-ME), Crenshaw (R-TX) and Rose (D-NY) have introduced similar legislation known as the Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019, which would suspend the pay for the President, Vice President, and Congress until the government reopens. Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has voiced support for a provision to automatically sustain current funding levels if an appropriations bill does not pass by a certain deadline. As Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated, “Shutting down the government should be as off limits in budget negotiations as chemical warfare is in real warfare.”
Federal employees, contractors, and the millions of Americans who depend on the federal government for services should not be held hostage during contentious appropriations debates. Congress must act to pass commonsense, bipartisan legislation to prevent future government shutdowns.