Liberals raise concerns over legislation to stop governent shutdowns

January 29, 2019 GMT

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill rush to embrace bills to prevent future government shutdowns, the liberal caucus in the House sounded a dissonant note, saying Tuesday they fear unintended consequences.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus said it is not yet opposing the legislation, but that its members are worried that Congress could end up locking in old spending levels and thus shortchanging liberal policy priorities, in an effort to prevent future shutdowns.

“I’m supportive of the intent of avoiding government shutdowns, I just think we need to be careful about the mechanisms,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, one of the co-chairs for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.


She said locking in old spending levels could create a disincentive to debate and pass new budgets and new spending bills particularly when a party that just lost power wants to try to thwart attempts by the new majority to change course.

The government just ended a five-week partial shutdown the longest on record and a number of lawmakers say it was so painful that Congress should find ways to prevent it from happening again.

Rob Portman,Ohio Republican, is pushing his End Government Shutdowns Act, which would create an automatic continuing resolution keeping the government operating at previous levels if Congress fails to pass spending bills on time.

After the first 120 days, funding would decrease by one percent and continue to do so every subsequent 90 days, in order to create pressure to strike a deal.

Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, introduced his own solution with the Stop STUPIDITY Act, which would keep all departments of the government funded except for the White House and Congress.

Both senators have urged lawmakers to include something similar to their proposals in any deal that would need to meet the February 15 deadline for the current continuing resolution.