Senate strikes down GOP anti-shutdown amendment creating permanent stopgap

Senate strikes down GOP anti-shutdown amendment creating permanent stopgap
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The Senate on Wednesday voted down an amendment to its latest government funding package that is intended to prevent future government shutdowns by creating a permanent stopgap spending measure if Congress does not complete its appropriations work.

Senators voted 56-42 on the amendment, which was proposed by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Sixty votes were needed for it to be attached to the three-bill government spending package, also known as a “minibus,” that is currently under consideration.

Every Senate Republican but one — Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — voted for the amendment, as did Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

All other Senate Democrats lined up against it. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) did not vote.

Lankford’s amendment would have required lawmakers to strike future government funding agreements without threat of a shutdown and for them to work on nothing else before the chamber until a deal is struck.

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In the meantime, the government would continue to run at the previous funding levels, essentially creating a continuing resolution for the time being. Lankford also responded to calls that the bill is unrealistic due to efforts across the Capitol by House Republicans to shut down the government.

“If Congress gets to the end of the fiscal year and the appropriations work is not done by the end of the year, we stay in session seven days a week, we can’t move to any other bill other than appropriations until we actually finish appropriations,” Lankford said in the floor ahead of the vote. “If I can make it just this simple: If we don’t finish our classwork, we have to stay after class.”

“I’ve heard from some folks that this won’t work because the House is crazy and they won’t care about staying here seven days a week because they’re crazy,” Lankford said to some who have called the idea unrealistic. “House members, though definitely crazy at times, still love their families … They’re not going to want to stay here seven days a week forever.”

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Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) argued that the amendment would make work to fund the government “way harder” and allow members who have a proclivity for obstructing government spending efforts “to ignore their responsibility” and block new appropriations bills.

Lankford’s proposal came up in the news last month as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) held up consideration of the minibus in order to force an amendment vote on the legislation.

The minibus would provide funding for military construction and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

Lawmakers passed 20 amendments via voice vote early Wednesday, adopted two others throughout the day and voted down one other. Fifteen more amendments are expected to be considered before the upper chamber votes on final passage, which is likely next week.

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