By Erik Wasson - 07/25/12 05:58 PM EDT
Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanThe Trail 2016: On the fringe McConnell: Senate won't take up TPP this year Senate Dems' campaign arm knocks GOP for Trump support 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.
The measure is supported by Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterSenators weigh in on FCC's business internet reform plans Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Bayh jumps into Indiana Senate race 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 BarrassoGOP blasts EPA on mine spill anniversary Investigators open criminal probe into EPA mine waste spill McAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat MORE (R-Wyo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanSeeing 20/20 on the Contact Lens Consumers Health Protection Act Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Senators launch broadband caucus MORE (R-Ark.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsBayh's Indiana voting status is inactive: report Poll: Democrat Bayh up 7 points in Indiana Senate race Indiana Dem Bayh touts his 'independence' in Senate ad MORE (R-Ind.), John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Top Republican questions Lynch on Clinton Foundation probe Baby dies of Zika in Texas MORE (R-Texas), Mike EnziMike EnziLiz Cheney wins Wyoming House primary Liz Cheney expected to cruise through Tuesday primary Sanford-Enzi 'Penny Plan' gets nation to a balanced budget MORE (R-Wyo.), John HoevenJohn HoevenMajority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention Death threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA MORE (R-N.D.), Mike LeeMike LeeThe impact of silence: The incarceration of children who have committed no crime Fidelity denies lobbying for student loan tax break Cruz, Lee question legality of Iran payment MORE (R-Utah) and John McCainJohn McCainPrimary opponent: McCain has 'issues about race' Clinton, Trump sharpen attacks The Hill's 12:30 Report 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.