Ohio senator looks to to shut down future shutdowns

Published: Feb. 13, 2019 at 4:40 PM EST
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President Donald Trump is considering Congress’ deal to avoid another shutdown. Meanwhile, some lawmakers plans to make sure the government can never be held as a political prisoner again.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) wants to keep the government running even when lawmakers can’t agree on how to spend your tax dollars. “I think shutdowns are stupid,” he said, “It’s just crazy. It’s also bad for the economy, so my thought is, let’s take the shutdowns off the table.”

It’s the fifth time he’s tried to sell the idea in Congress. Portman’s solution is this: when lawmakers miss budget deadlines, the previous spending plan gets extended. Small, across-the-board spending cuts would follow if the budget stalemate drags out over months.

This year, following the longest shutdown in U.S. history, permanently ending shutdowns has more support than ever before - with plans coming from both sides of the aisle.

“You cannot put the federal government on automatic pilot and have it work well,” said Georgetown University Political Science Professor Michele Swers.

Swers said momentum to end shutdowns is a natural response to political polarization and public pressure. But, she argues Congress typically needs deadline pressure to compromise and function.

And, she said uniform cuts remove accountability. “You’re not scrutinizing what’s working and what’s not working and increasing and decreasing funding accordingly,” she explained.

It’s a long shot, but if the idea becomes law, the country’s longest government shutdown to date could be the last.

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