National Review: Making Congress Stay ‘after Class’ to Finish Its Work

September 26, 2023
National Review: Making Congress Stay ‘after Class’ to Finish Its Work


By John Fund

It’s become abundantly clear that the constant threat of government shutdowns doesn’t work to advance conservative goals. Republicans always get blamed by the media for any shutdown, and only very rarely does the shutdown result in any budget cuts.

Some senators, led by James Lankford of Oklahoma, have an idea that would permanently end shutdowns, instead triggering two-week stopgap bills when funding lapses.

Lankford says he has attracted public support from four Senate Democrats plus independent Kyrsten Sinema. He believes he can get enough Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to force a floor vote on his amendment. The idea would then go to the GOP-controlled House.

“The Prevent Government Shutdowns Act would do exactly what the title suggests. It’s a simple bill that offers an eminently reasonable solution to one form of recurring congressional gridlock.”

While we often favor gridlock, the government-shutdown game doesn’t work to benefit taxpayers. Currently, congressional leaders can use shutdown deadlines as take-it-or-leave-it offers to their members, empowering party chiefs to devise must-pass bills.

Lankford says that under his bill, Congress would have powerful incentives to pass a budget:

During the covered period of an automatic CR, the following restrictions are put in place:

  • No taxpayer-funded travel allowances for official business (except one flight to return to Washington, DC) for the following:
    • White House OMB staff and leadership
    • Members of the House and Senate
    • Committee and personal staff of the House and Senate
  • No official funds may be used for CODEL or STAFFDEL travel
  • No use of campaign funds by congressional offices to supplement official duties or travel expenses
  • No motions to recess or adjourn in the House/Senate for a period or more than 23 hours

In addition, under the bill, no other votes would be in order in the House and Senate unless they pertain to passage of the appropriations bills or mandatory quorum calls in the Senate

Lankford notes his bill would create a type of detention hall for Congress: “We should be forced as members to finish our homework or else stay after class.”

One thing that Lankford doesn’t mention while he’s rounding up Democratic votes — because spending would be flat until new spending bills were passed — pressure to make a deal would mount more on Democrats than Republicans.


Read the full article on National