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Potential Pick for Romney VP Wants to Nix Threat of Government Shutdowns

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) says 11th-hour budget showdowns create too much instability and rush deals, but is his bill just letting lawmakers off the deadline hook?

Bridget Johnson


July 30, 2012 - 2:14 pm
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“Our legislation ensures the federal government continues to provide the necessary services to its citizens while protecting against the panic and pressure of last-minute budget deals, allowing Congress to make the decisions necessary to get Washington’s fiscal house back in order,” Portman said.

It’s similar to House legislation introduced last December by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.). The Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011 was unveiled as one of ten budget reforms in a set presented by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is one of 27 co-sponsors on Lankford’s bill.

“This legislation is about getting Congress to appropriately perform its most basic function,” said Lankford, “and that is ensuring funds are appropriated for government services.”

His legislation also automatically triggers a continuing resolution as a stopgap measure. This would be accompanied by an across-the-board 1 percent decrease to discretionary spending. To motivate lawmakers away from relying on additional continuing resolutions, another 1 percent spending cut would take place every three months until a long-term budget is complete.

Ryan said at the time of the bill’s introduction that “lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis is no way to govern.”

Despite the support for Lankford’s bill, the Portman bill flies in the face of the way things have been traditionally done in the House, especially when the grass-roots wants to see Republicans dig in their heels against Democratic spending plans even when threatened with shutdown.

Neither hub of the grass-roots is excited with the Portman proposition, though: RedState called it the “Kick-the-Can-Down-the-Road-Until-January Act,” while Daily Kos called it the “Norquist Wet Dream Act.”

Lawmakers backing the House and Senate bills, though, defend the measures as necessary to guard against rush deals and gaps in vital services.

“At the core of our budget deficit is a flawed budget process,” said Lankford.

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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