WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today announced he cosponsored legislation to end government shutdowns by holding Members of Congress accountable for their failure to govern responsibly. The Government Shutdown Accountability Act, which was approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week, would prevent another government shutdown by automatically extending funding at current levels if Congress fails to pass new funding legislation. The bill also includes requirements to force lawmakers to the table by withholding their pay and requiring them to stay in Washington until an agreement is reached.
“Government shutdowns hurt families in Michigan and across the country, and Americans are sick and tired of Congress failing to do its job,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will keep the government’s lights on and ensure that lawmakers can’t walk away until a deal is reached. I’m proud to support this effort that will turn the tables so that Washington’s dysfunction only affects the lawmakers responsible, and not hardworking families who rely on the services government provides.”
The Government Shutdown Accountability Act would end shutdowns by keeping the federal government operating at level funding if Congress fails to pass appropriations legislation before a deadline. To ensure that Members of Congress and the President continue to negotiate until an agreement is reached, the bill would require members’ paychecks to be held in escrow until funding legislation is passed, and members would receive back pay upon passing legislation or at the end of the Congress. The bill also restricts funding for Congressional and executive branch travel, requires Congress to be in session and members to be present on a daily basis to prevent lawmakers from leaving Washington until an agreement is reached.
The federal government has shut down twice in just the last two years, most recently 35 days from December 2018 to January 2019 – the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The Congressional Budget Office estimated this shutdown cost the government nearly $5 billion in back pay for furloughed workers and lost tax revenues, caused nearly $11 billion in lost economic activity, and harmed an untold number of businesses and people who rely on government services, loans and grants. In Michigan alone, the shutdown affected nearly 7,000 federal employees, including approximately 1,000 Coast Guard employees, and left emergency response employees overseeing the Line 5 Pipeline without the information needed to prevent catastrophic oil spills.