Year after year, Washington brings America to the brink of a government shutdown. These high-pressure situations are consistently used as political leverage by both sides to advance bad policy. Crisis scenarios caused by Washington’s broken budget process place unnecessary pressure on Congress to let wasteful spending and corporate welfare creep into must-pass legislation, giving lawmakers a license to hold their nose and vote or risk being responsible for a shutdown.
It’s time for a better way.
In this new report from Alison Acosta Winters, AFP Senior Policy Fellow, we not only examine the cost of past government shutdowns, but also outline a path to preventing future government shutdowns using automatic continuing resolutions. By providing continuing funding for any appropriations bills not passed and signed into law, auto-CRs would prevent costly shutdowns and eliminate situations of governing from one fiscal crisis to the next.
In the policy report, AFP outlines the benefits of an auto-CR as well as potential pitfalls that Congress must avoid in creating an automatic continuing resolution.
Why an auto-CR:
Shutdowns are costly: The last three government shutdowns cost taxpayers more than $4 billion.
Shutdowns are disruptive: Shutdowns are highly disruptive for businesses and their workers that sell to the government because they cannot receive payments, or in some instances, even provide services and products during a shutdown.
Shutdowns do not achieve policy goals: Notable shutdowns in 2018, 2014, and 1996 failed to achieve policy victories and as history shows, led to even more partisan gridlock.
An auto-CR would prevent shutdowns: An auto-CR would prevent shutdowns and the wasteful costs to taxpayers, businesses, and families. It would also eliminate situations leading to high-stakes, must-pass legislation.
An auto-CR would keep spending under control: An auto-CR would keep spending under control, at least for a short period, because continuing resolutions typically fund the government at the same level as the previous year. The auto-CR would remove the inflection point that is often used to force spending higher year after year.
Potential pitfalls to be avoided:
Automatically increase spending: Any auto-CR must not put the rest of the budget on an automatic upward path through built-in metrics that keep spending under control.
Give a free pass: An auto-CR must not incentivize lawmakers to avoid writing comprehensive appropriations bills every year.
Incentivize even faster spending growth: An auto-CR should not remove incentives to keep a modicum level of fiscal discipline and drive up spending further.