Portman pushes bill to end shutdowns

Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanSens submit bill to 'Hack the DHS' CBO score underlines GOP tensions on ObamaCare repeal Senate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer MORE (R-Ohio) on Wednesday introduced a bill aimed at ending the threat of a government shutdown once and for all.

The bill would automatically extend government spending at current levels for 120 days when funding expires. If Congress continues to fail to act, spending would be cut by 1 percent across the board every 90 days.

“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 in a statement.

The triggered cuts could give fiscal hawks a negotiating advantage, since simply failing to reach a deal would reduce spending by default. 

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"The bill gives opponents of discretionary spending a victory every time they successfully filibuster appropriations bills since it guarantees more cuts in spending," a Democratic aide said.

The measure is supported by Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterSanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Montana senator on Gianforte: Dealing with media ‘part of the job’ Senators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees MORE (D-Mont.) and could boost Portman’s image as a bipartisan deal-maker. Portman is considered a top contender to be presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's running mate.

A shutdown battle consumed Washington in April 2011 when President Obama, Senate Democrats and the new House GOP majority could not agree on a level of spending for a fiscal year that was already half complete.

A deal was reached to keep the government funded, but the battle bruised the image of both parties.

Congress regularly fails to complete spending bills by the Oct. 1 deadline, and this year is bound to be no exception. A short-term funding bill will likely be needed to keep the government open.

Portman's bill is a departure from the tactics of the GOP House in the 1990s, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich actively sought shutdown scenarios to try to cut government spending. 

Sens. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoOvernight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death's door Overnight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts Top GOP senators tell Trump to ditch Paris climate deal MORE (R-Wyo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanSenators pan WH proposal to cut airport security programs, hike ticket fees Congress should let local communities set their own PACE GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand MORE (R-Ark.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing Budowsky: GOP summer of scandal The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ind.), John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans go to battle over pre-existing conditions Senate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer Senate staff to draft health bill during recess MORE (R-Texas), Mike EnziMike EnziFive takeaways from Trump's first budget proposal Eliminate Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 to create jobs Trump releases budget that slashes government programs MORE (R-Wyo.), John HoevenJohn HoevenRepublicans go to battle over pre-existing conditions Overnight Healthcare: Divisions emerge in Senate over preexisting conditions GOP senators meet with insurer for input on ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-N.D.), Mike LeeMike LeeRepublicans go to battle over pre-existing conditions Senate gears up for fight on Trump's 0B Saudi Arabia arms sale Senate feels pressure for summer healthcare vote MORE (R-Utah) and John McCainJohn McCainDefense hawks gird for budget brawl Trump got harsher GOP reception than Bush on budget Armed Services chairman unveils .1B Asia-Pacific security bill MORE (R-Ariz.) are also co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in the House.

— This story was updated at 2:40 p.m.