This bill — the End Federal Shutdowns Act of 2018 — would require that spending be continued at the previously enacted levels if Congress fails to pass appropriations bills on time in order to prevent a lapse in government funding or partial shutdown.
What is House Bill H.R. 5313?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 5313
In-Depth: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) introduced this bill to end Congress’ reliance on short-term, stop-gap funding bills to keep the federal government running:
“For far too long, Congress has relied on short term, stop-gap funding bills to keep the federal government open and running — and have done so when up against holidays and midnight deadlines… For the last 40 years — but increasingly more so in the last decade — this has been and is the way Washington operates. It needs to end now. Put simply, this is how it works: time is running out as Congress approaches a funding deadline. In exchange for their votes, appropriators demand more money for “insert name of pet project” and the spending bill balloons as more and more wish list items are added. Inevitably, one party demands more or they’ll threaten to walk from the deal. A small leadership team from both sides then hammer out a deal behind closed doors — with Republicans agreeing to spend even more money America does not have, has to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back… Moreover, these last-minute side deals for unrelated, often deemed “must-pass” legislation, have no business being in a continuing resolution and should be voted on as stand-alone bills. But because of threatened government shutdown risks, the bulk of Congress is subject to the spending demands of the powerful few… In the late-night rush to negotiate a deal, the powerbrokers eventually concede, bad policy is enacted, and Congress is pressured to vote for the deal to please some segment of their constituency. It’s a loss on both sides of the aisle. Perhaps even worse, the country loses — big time — as bills are introduced and voted on before the public has time to digest them and submit their views to their elected officials. Transparency in government becomes nonexistent. And the deficit increases exponentially… While Congress seems hell-bent on passing unaffordable spending bills and adding trillions to America’s debt, eventually the gravy train is going to an end and become a train wreck because America simply can’t afford these expensive deals… Providing for an automatic continuous resolution [by passing this bill] should be the easiest vote most of us in Congress make this year. It provides stability for the federal government and prevents rank and file members from being held hostage to the demands of special interest groups, leadership, and powerful appropriators."
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget argues that funding each year’s government at the previous year’s level doesn’t account for individual agencies’ needs:
“[F]unding at the past year’s level [does not account for] changing policy needs or the value of each program within an agency… [This] wastes hundreds of hours of careful consideration and program evaluation incorporated into each agency’s budget submission. For instance, the president’s budget annually proposes a list of eliminations and reductions of programs that are duplicative or ineffective; [past-year funding] will continue to fund these unwanted programs… [And, this practice] disrupts activities within agencies, makes it difficult to plan or start future projects, and costs staff time to revise work plans every time the budget changes."
This bill has the support of seven cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.
Of Note: Government shutdowns are a relatively recent phenomenon in American government. They’re the result of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 — since the Act’s passage, Congress has failed to authorize funding for the federal government 19 times, including once at the beginning of this year. The first six of these shutdowns didn’t affect government funding at all, however; it wasn’t until Carter administration Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued a set of opinions in 1980 and 1981 that the government started treating “funding gaps” (periods when Congress has failed to allocate funds for the ongoing functions of government) as necessitating the full or partial shutdown of government agencies.
In the event of a shutdown, each federal agency follows its own shutdown plan, following guidance released in previous shutdowns and coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These plans identify which government activities may not continue until appropriations are restored, requiring furloughs and the temporary halt of many agency activities.
“Essential services,” many of which relate to public safety, continue to operate, with payments covering an obligations incurred only when appropriations are enacted. In prior shutdowns, border protection, in-hospital medical care, air traffic control, law enforcement, and power grid maintenance have been classified as essential. Some legislative and judicial staff have also been classified as essential. Mandatory spending that isn’t subject to annual appropriations, such as Social Medical, Medicare, and Medicaid, continues despite a shutdown.
Services impacted by past shutdowns have included:
Social Security and Medicare benefits verification and issuance of cards: The last time this happened, in 1996, over 10,000 Medicare applicants were temporarily turned down every day of the shutdown.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site inspections: In 2013, the EPA halted site inspections to 1,200 different sites, including hazardous waste, drinking water, and chemical facilities. LIkewise, the Food and Drug Administration delayed almost 900 inspections.
National Parks: During the 2013 shutdown, the National Park Service (NPS) turned away millions of visitors to over 400 parks, national monuments, and other sites, leading to the loss of over half a billion dollars in visitor spending revenue.
National Institutes of Health (NIH): Because the NIH is prevented from admitting new patients or processing grant applications during a shutdown, the 2013 shutdown forced states to frant the money for formula grant programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): In 2013, 1.2 million income and Social Security number verification requests built up, potentially delaying mortgage and loan approvals. Billions of dollars in tax refunds were also delayed.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / mj0007)
End Federal Shutdowns Act of 2018
To provide for automatic continuing appropriations, and for other purposes.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on AppropriationsCommittee on the BudgetIntroducedMarch 15th, 2018
- house Committees