On Wednesday, the Senate rejected an amendment to eliminate the threat of future government shutdowns. This amendment, if passed, would’ve established a continual temporary funding solution in case Congress fails to finalize its budgetary duties.
The proposal, put forth by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), did not meet the required 60 votes, falling short with a 56-42 tally. This proposal was part of the ongoing discussions about a three-bill government funding package, commonly called a “minibus.”
Most Senate Republicans supported the amendment, with Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) being the sole exception. Additionally, ten non-Republican Senators, including Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), also backed it. The rest of the Senate Democrats opposed the motion, while Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) abstained.
The essence of Lankford’s amendment was to compel lawmakers to finalize future funding agreements without the looming danger of a government shutdown. Legislators would focus solely on this issue if such agreements were not reached, and the government would maintain its operations based on the previous year’s budget.
Defending his proposition, Lankford commented that if the fiscal year’s conclusion doesn’t complete budgetary tasks, Congress would work relentlessly, even seven days a week, until a resolution is reached. Comparing it to school, he said, “If we don’t finish our classwork, we have to stay after class.” Addressing skepticism regarding the House’s willingness to comply, Lankford opined that House members would not want to work incessantly despite their occasional unpredictability.
However, opponents like Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) believed this amendment would complicate governmental funding processes and empower those who block spending bills to sidestep their duties.
This amendment was spotlighted in recent news when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) delayed discussions on the minibus to advocate for a vote on this proposal.
The funding package under scrutiny, the minibus, is set to allocate funds to various sectors, including military construction and departments such as Veterans Affairs and Transportation. On Wednesday, 20 amendments were accepted through a voice vote; two others got the nod during the day, and one was declined. Approximately 15 more amendments are up for discussion before the final vote, anticipated for the coming week.