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Americans for Prosperity Senior Policy Fellow Alison Acosta Winters | National Review
After President Donald Trump in March signed the massive $1.3 trillion spending bill for 2018, he warned Congress: “I will never sign another bill like this again.”
Every year it’s the same story. Congress passes almost none of its twelve routine spending bills by the start of the new fiscal year. Facing the pressure of a government shutdown, it instead passes what is known as a continuing resolution (CR), which funds the government at the previous year’s level.
To avoid a looming (or actual) government shutdown, this one huge spending bill usually features the worst aspects of what the two parties want. That bill then gets sent to the president, who has to sign it — or take the blame for a shutdown.
Yet there is a fairly simple solution. Congress and the president should enact a law providing that if spending bills aren’t passed by the start of the fiscal year, a CR automatically goes into effect and stays in effect until new spending bills are approved.
Change of this kind can’t come soon enough. Partial shutdowns have happened 20 times over the past four decades, ranging in duration from a few hours to three weeks. That’s an average of about once every other year. Moody’s estimated that the 2013 shutdown alone cost the U.S. economy $20 billion.
An automatic CR would provide certainty for agency heads and employees alike. And taxpayers would win, so long as relying on the automatic CR entailed spending cuts.
Automatic CRs would eliminate the false choice between fiscal responsibility and keeping the government running — and they would also eliminate the excuse for casting a bad vote.
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