Congress

Feds don't need shutdown plans, lawmakers say

Shutterstock image (Orhan Cam): U.S. Capitol at night.

Lawmakers are still in the process of negotiating the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill only four working days before current appropriations lapse on Dec. 11. But most lawmakers do not anticipate disruptions in federal government operations.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told FCW that he believes there is enough goodwill on both sides of the aisle to prevent a shutdown.

"I am certainly hoping that everybody will come together and figure out this week we should really agree to keep the government open," he said.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who co-authored the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, said federal workers are justified in being concerned because there are only four legislative days before current appropriations end. But he added that one thing is working in favor of the Democrats: the 2016 presidential elections.

"My friends on the Republican side of the aisle understand that a government shutdown on the eve of a presidential campaign year would have catastrophic results for them, which is why I predict we probably are not going to shut down," he said.

The political issues in the current Republican budget proposal include policy riders related to the environment, immigration and foreign policy, including the Syrian refugee crisis.

Connolly voiced frustration with the way policy issues have been handled in the past. He cited fights over the Affordable Care Act's implementation, the Obama administration's deportation relief policies and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

"You see no pattern there at all," Connolly said. "They are all unrelated topics. It's purely whimsical. It's the flavor of the month. We can't run the government that way."

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), another lawmaker who is seeking to prevent a government shutdown, said, "I think we are going to work it all out. I have been pretty outspoken. I am an advocate of the government shutdown-prevention piece as well to be able to get better results, too."

So should federal workers be worried about a shutdown?

"I don't think that's likely" to happen, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told FCW. "Nobody's gunning for that. So keep focused on your work and hopefully Congress will do its job, too."

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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