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Portman pushes bill to end shutdowns

Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanSenators to Trump: Get tough on Russia over Ukraine John Glenn dies at 95 John Glenn hospitalized 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 TesterRed-state Dems face tough votes on Trump picks Montana Republican warns of Senate challenge to Tester Vulnerable Dems ready to work with Trump 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 eyes big gamble on ObamaCare Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead MORE (R-Wyo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanArk., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test Deficits could stand in the way of Trump's agenda The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (R-Ark.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsTrump's Cabinet: What jobs are left to fill Trump narrows secretary of State field to four finalists 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (R-Ind.), John CornynJohn CornynTax reform: Starting place for jobs, growth Senate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Overnight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House MORE (R-Texas), Mike EnziMike EnziSenate Dems draw hard line over miners' pension bill Republicans want to grease tracks for Trump President-elect Trump: Please drain the student loan swamp MORE (R-Wyo.), John HoevenJohn HoevenSenate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Feds deny permit for Dakota Access pipeline Dem senator to meet with Trump MORE (R-N.D.), Mike LeeMike LeeSenate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Overnight Healthcare: Medical cures bill finally heads to White House Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead MORE (R-Utah) and John McCainJohn McCainSenate votes to elevate Cyber Command in military Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Trump really can't do much to reduce tensions with Putin's Russia 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.