Iowa’s congressional delegation supports measures to permanently end government shutdowns

After the longest shutdown in American history, Iowans in Congress support measures that would automatically keep the government funded if lawmakers didn’t approve a budget.

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Gage Miskimen

The U.S. Capitol is seen on March 13, 2018.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Reporter

As Congress emerged from the longest government shutdown in history, members of Iowa’s congressional delegation support measures that aim to end shutdowns permanently.

The flurry of legislation comes after a partial government shutdown ended Jan. 25 with a continuing resolution, which restored operations at several federal agencies until at least Feb. 15. If Congress doesn’t pass a budget by then, the government could enter another shutdown.

In a press call Wednesday with reporters, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the finance committee, said that he is the coauthor of a bill with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would put an automatic continuing resolution in place if Congress has not passed a final budget on time.

“If we can get that included, there will be no more uncertainty for federal workers and for the American people who rely on services like the Department of Agriculture or the Veterans Administration,” Grassley said.

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The bill would also cut appropriations by 1 percent in the first 120 days a budget isn’t passed and by another 1 percent every 90 days after that. Iowa’s junior Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, is also listed as a co-sponsor on Portman’s bill.

A U.S. Senate Democrat’s competing proposal would include automatic increases in expenditures adjusted to gross domestic product if the appropriations bill isn’t passed by a certain date.

Grassley said he didn’t support proposals that increased expenditures for each month a budget isn’t passed. 

In the lower chamber, Iowa’s Democratic representatives have introduced or joined various bills, which at the center include an automatic continuing resolution to keep the government lights on if Congress doesn’t agree on a budget.

Democratic Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne co-sponsored a bill with 19 other members of Congress. That bill, called the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act, would prevent members of Congress and senior members of the executive branch from getting paid until a full budget is passed.

“During this past shutdown, our federal workers, our farmers and our communities were suffering while lawmakers went home for the holidays. This is an unacceptable way to govern,” Axne said. “Our legislation says if lawmakers can’t agree on a budget, lawmakers don’t get paid. It’s time to stop punishing everyday Iowans for Washington dysfunction.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District introduced a bill with a Republican lawmaker that would similarly include an automatic continuing resolution, but would keep services funded at the same level.

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