[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 214 (Thursday, December 17, 2020)]
[Senate]
[Page S7571]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                    Prevent Government Shutdowns Act

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, this all feels strangely familiar. It is 
the middle of December. We are facing a government shutdown, arguing 
behind the scenes over the final details, discussing whether we are 
going to do a short-term CR, wondering what is going to happen. 
Everyone has this sense that if we don't get the bill done by tomorrow, 
then we are going to end up in shutdown and all the problems that 
causes.
  Senator Hassan and I stand in the back and hold up our hands and say: 
In February of last year, we proposed a solution to this that fits this 
exact scenario to keep us from holding Federal workers and all of our 
agencies in harm's way.
  The ending government shutdowns bill is designed for this moment. For 
whatever reason, we have not been able to agree to pass it. It is a 
process document. It doesn't solve all of the policy issues we have. We 
have real policy differences, but we should not have process 
differences at moments like this. It is not good for the American 
people. It is not good for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Congress to 
stand at the precipice of a shutdown and to say: Maybe we go over; 
maybe we don't. Maybe we have a short-term continuing resolution; maybe 
we pass the 12 appropriations bills. We shouldn't ever get to that 
moment.
  Our simple idea is not a partisan idea. Senator Hassan and I released 
a simple, straightforward idea. You get to the end of the fiscal year, 
whenever that may be, and if we have not finished all the 
appropriations work, we continue working until it gets done. An 
automatic continuing resolution kicks in so that no Federal worker is 
worried that they are going to have furloughs right before Christmas; 
no agency is panicked about what happens next and who do I have to 
furlough and who do I have to keep and who is essential and who is 
nonessential. None of that happens. None of that waste occurs. We 
continue debating until we resolve the issue. That is all that it is.
  We have 12 appropriations bills that are not done. Painfully, in this 
year of COVID, there have been only 22 total appropriations hearings in 
12 months--22. That is 12 appropriations committees, 12 months, only 22 
hearings total for all of them.
  We have not completed the appropriations work on time, so now we are 
struggling with the what-ifs. Senator Hassan and I have a 
straightforward idea. Let's pass the end government shutdowns bill. 
Let's continue our negotiations so we don't have to be in the shadow of 
a shutdown again next year.
  It is doable. It shouldn't be controversial. It should be obvious. 
When we get to a time period like this, if we are not complete, we keep 
working until it is done. In the meantime, we don't leave. It is the 
exact statement I have heard from everybody in the Chamber so far 
today. We need to stay until it is done. I agree. That should be the 
process every time we get to this moment. We stay until the work gets 
done. Our bill just mandates that, and it keeps us from ever having to 
say the word ``shutdown'' again.
  So I would encourage this body again, as I did all of last year, as I 
did all of this year: Let's end government shutdowns. Let's keep 
debating the policy. We have differences. We know that. But let's end 
the thought of government shutdowns.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.