Sen. Lankford resumes call for bill to stop government shutdowns

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(WASHINGTON) — A Republican senator is renewing calls for legislation that would require lawmakers to reach a government funding deal without threat of a shutdown.

Sen. James Lankford is resuming calls to pass legislation that would require congressional lawmakers to work in “continuous session” and abide by other stipulations until reaching a deal to fund the government by fiscal-year deadlines in the future.

Lankford, R-Okla., first introduced the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act five years ago, along with Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, after the two sat down to discuss the idea for bipartisan legislation that could help put an end to government shutdowns, Lankford told ABC News on Tuesday.

“What’s the best way to stop it? So as simple as it sounds, we start with the most basic concept. If you don’t finish your classwork, you stay after class,” Lankford said.

“So the way that this works is, if you get to the end of the fiscal year and the 12 appropriation bills are not done, the House and the Senate are in continuous session seven days a week, we can’t travel, and we can only move to appropriation bills during that time period,” Lankford said. “It basically puts us in a spot to say, ‘You can’t leave, you can’t go see your family on the weekend, you can’t travel and do other events and things that need to be done. You’ve got to be able to stay here and work on just appropriations until you get those things solved.'”

Lankford continued: “When my older brother and I were having arguments growing up, my mom would lock the two of us in one of our bedrooms, and would say, ‘When you guys solve this, you can come out.'”

The senator’s comments came after lawmakers narrowly averted what would have been one of the largest government shutdowns in history. With just hours until the midnight deadline, the House and Senate passed a stopgap funding bill late Saturday night to fund the government through November.

President Joe Biden signed the measure and urged Congress to “get to work right away” to pass government funding bills for the next fiscal year.

The House ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker Tuesday after challenges from Rep. Matt Gaetz and other Republican hardliners after McCarthy worked with House Democrats to keep the government funded. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., was named as speaker pro tempore, an interim role to lead the chamber until another speaker is elected at a future point.

Lankford said he is “confident” lawmakers can avoid a shutdown by the new deadline.

“The vast majority of the American people don’t see this as productive. It puts us in a terrible position on the international stage when the rest of the world is watching us. It spends more money than it saves, by far, puts a lot of federal workers and their families in a really tough position. And if you’re some of those folks that are contractors who work for the federal government, you’re out and you don’t get paid at all,” Lankford said.

Lankford said the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act is now “gaining a lot of steam” on both sides of the aisle and he believes he has 60 votes of support for the bill in the Senate.

“It’s a matter of getting it through final committee again, which we’ve done in previous sessions. And actually getting it on the floor and to be able to vote and pass it and make it law. That way we can forever end government shutdowns and then we can argue about other things that actually matter more — the topic of the shutdown, not about having a shutdown,” Lankford said.

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