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The Final Shutdown? Senators Propose Legislation to Keep the Government Open—Forever

January 28, 2019, 11:36 AM UTC

The U.S. government is back in business, and some U.S. lawmakers want to prevent it from shutting down ever again.

After suffering a record-smashing 35-day shutdown, legislators are heading back to Capitol Hill with new energy for a longstanding effort to ban the option of shutting down the government. After a shutdown that denied federal workers two paychecks, members of both parties are realizing that shutdowns rarely produce positive outcomes for anyone.

Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) each introduced a bill to prevent shutdowns in the future. Portman’s, which has 18 co-sponsors, would continue funding the government at current levels if Congress failed to reach a funding agreement, but funding would decline by 1% after 120 days and then each subsequent 90 days if no deal were reached.

Warner’s, called the Stop Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years, or “Stop Stupidity Act,” would maintain funding for all aspects of government except for the White House and legislative branch. Explaining his reasoning on the Senate floor, Warner said, “common sense tells me that we wouldn’t be here 35 days into this shutdown if all our staffs were experiencing the same kind of shortfall and economic distress that 800,000 of our fellow federal workers experienced.”

But President Donald Trump struck a different note in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Sunday. Discussing the likelihood of reaching a deal within the next three weeks, Trump said another shutdown was “certainly an option” if Congress can’t pass a bill that meets his approval, which means no less than $5.7 million in funding for a border wall.